Childhood Cancer Incidence in Pennsylvania Counties in Relation to Living in Counties With Hydraulic Fracturing Sites

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Abstract

Objective:

Evaluate whether childhood cancer incidence is associated with counties with hydraulic fracturing (HF).

Methods:

We compared cancer incidence in children in Pennsylvania counties before and after HF drilling began, using standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).

Results:

The total number of cancers observed was close to expected both before drilling began (SIR = 0.94; 95% CI, 0.90 to 0.99) and after drilling (SIR = 1.02; 95% CI, 0.98 to 1.07) for counties with oil and natural gas wells. Analyses for childhood leukemia were also unremarkable (SIR for leukemia before drilling = 0.97 [95% CI, 0.88 to 1.06]; SIR for leukemia after drilling = 1.01 [95% CI, 0.92 to 1.11]). A slightly elevated SIR was found for central nervous system tumors after drilling (SIR = 1.13; 95% CI, 1.02 to 1.25). This was because of a slight excess in those counties with the fewest number of wells.

Conclusions:

This study offers comfort concerning health effects of HF on childhood cancers.

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