Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
An oil well pumps next to a newly constructed neighborhood near Signal Hill in Long Beach, CA. Image: Jim Ruymen, UPI/Alamy Live News
Pregnant women in rural California who lived near active oil and gas wells were 40% more likely to give birth to low birthweight babies, according to a new study. The study conducted by University of California researchers is the first to study how California’s network of oil and gas development affects babies born nearby.
As CalMatters explained, the study, however, didn’t address what factors related to oil and gas development might lead to adverse birth outcomes. But many hazardous air and water pollutants are linked to drilling and oil production, such as
Fine airborne particles
Mercury and volatile organic compounds like benzene.
There’s also commercial activity associated with energy development, which brings truck traffic, dust, noise, and light.
Why This Matters: California is a leader on climate change but it’s also the seventh largest producer of crude oil in the country. California has an old fossil fuel industry and many of its wells are inactive, so this study is important in understanding how even abandoned wells affect human health. At the end of the day, fossil fuel extraction, even in one of the most regulated states, still comes with immense human health costs.
The Study: As Science Daily explained, the study, funded by the California Air Resources Board, is one of the largest of its kind.
It analyzed the records of nearly 3 million births to people living within 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) of at least one oil or gas well between 2006 and 2015.
Unlike previous studies, it examined births in both rural and urban areas, and people living near both active and inactive oil and gas sites.
While the link between oil and gas production and low birthweight babies was found in rural areas, it didn’t hold up in urban areas, such as large parts of the Los Angeles region.
The Consequences:Eco Watch reported that newborns are deemed to have low birth weight when they weigh less than 5lb and 8oz.
Studies also suggest small- and low-birthweight babies are more likely to have medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and intellectual and developmental disabilities in later life.
The United States has seen an oil and gas boom since 2008, and while this has been praised as a direct benefit to the economy, we never stopped to look at the environmental and health costs that were simultaneously created. As Forbes explained,
Since fracking took off in 2008, we have more than doubled our proven oil reserves to ~65 billion barrels. Natural gas reserves have surged over 80% to ~430 trillion cubic feet. Already the largest oil and gas producer, the U.S. is set to increase its share of ~17% of global oil production and ~23% of gas.
Why California is Different:Science Daily noted that oil production in California differs from previously-studied states like Colorado, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Texas because its infrastructure is generally much older, and the state has a high number of inactive wells.
Additionally, because of the geology of the region, many of the sites use enhancement techniques, including fracking and steam and water injection, to access oil reserves.
In Dr. Anthony Fauci’s recent interview with In Style Magazine, he kept a diplomatic tone about how well the White House takes the hard truths he has to share about the COVID-19 pandemic. But what if we had an anger translator to tell us what cool, calm, collected Fauci ACTUALLY means? Sounds amazing, we nominate […]
A new study published in the Journal Science yesterday found that the costs preventing pandemics using three conservation strategies are substantially less than the economic losses and mortality costs of responding to a global zoonotic virus once it occurs.
Why This Matters: As the study’s authors explain, the risks of zoonotic disease are higher than ever as increasingly intimate associations between humans and wildlife disease reservoirs accelerate the potential for viruses to spread globally.
As the world is grappling with the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization has warned that another infamous killer–the bubonic plague–has made a comeback by categorizing it as a re-emerging disease. As CNN reported, on July 7, Chinese authorities confirmed a case of the bubonic plague in inner Mongolia. and yesterday in an unrelated case, […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.