Hydraulic Fracturing and Infant Health
Elaine Hill, Cornell University
Over the last decade, intensive natural gas operations (NGO) have become prevalent in 31 states. There are numerous environmental and health concerns related to NGO. This research exploits the natural experiment of the gradual introduction of natural gas wells to identify the impacts of resulting air and water pollution on infant health. The immediate outcomes of interest are infant health measures (low birth weight, premature birth and 5 minute APGAR scores). This study examines singleton births to mothers residing close to a natural gas well from 2003-2010 in Pennsylvania. The difference in differences approach (DD) compares birth outcomes before and after a gas well was completed for mothers who live close to a gas well. The results suggest that exposure to NGO before birth increases the prevalence of low birth weight and reduces 5 minute APGAR scores, while no impact on premature birth is detected.