Health studies report associations between metrics of residential proximity to unconventional oil and gas (UOG) development and adverse health endpoints. We investigated whether exposure through household groundwater is captured by existing metrics and a newly developed metric incorporating groundwater flow paths. We compared metrics with detection frequencies/concentrations of 64 organic and inorganic UOG-related chemicals/groups in residential groundwater from 255 homes (Pennsylvania n = 94 and Ohio n = 161). Twenty-seven chemicals were detected in ≥20% of water samples at concentrations generally below U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards. In Pennsylvania, two organic chemicals/groups had reduced odds of detection with increasing distance to the nearest well: 1,2-dichloroethene and benzene (Odds Ratio [OR]: 0.46, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.23–0.93) and m- and p-xylene (OR: 0.28, 95% CI: 0.10–0.80); results were consistent across metrics. In Ohio, the odds of detecting toluene increased with increasing distance to the nearest well (OR: 1.48, 95% CI: 1.12–1.95), also consistent across metrics. Correlations between inorganic chemicals and metrics were limited (all |ρ| ≤ 0.28). Limited associations between metrics and chemicals may indicate that UOG-related water contamination occurs rarely/episodically, more complex metrics may be needed to capture drinking water exposure, and/or spatial metrics in health studies may better reflect exposure to other stressors.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported in part by the National Priority Research Project under Assistance agreement no. CR839249 awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to Yale University. The publication has not been formally reviewed by EPA. The views expressed in this document are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Agency. EPA does not endorse any products or commercial services mentioned in this publication. C.J.C. was supported in part by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences under the National Institutes of Health [F31ES031441], the Yale Cancer Center [T32CA250803], and the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
© 2022 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society
- drinking water
- exposure assessment
- spatial metrics
- spatial surrogates
- unconventional oil and gas development
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article
- Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
- Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't