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Radon: Another Fracking Worry

Story by Alexander Gelfand • Photography by Doran J. Clark/Thinkstock

You can add increased radon levels to your list of concerns about hydraulic fracturing, according to new research by Brian Schwartz, MD, MS, and colleagues.

After analyzing indoor radon levels across Pennsylvania between 1989 and 2013, they found a significant increase beginning in 2005. That’s when companies got serious about fracking natural gas wells in the Marcellus Shale formation in the northeastern U.S. Higher radon levels were found in counties with more fracking activity.

“The possible cumulative impacts of thousands of wells must be further investigated,” says Schwartz.

3 Takeaways

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7,469 natural gas wells were drilled in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale between 2005 and 2013.

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Studies suggest that shale may have higher radon levels than other sources of natural gas.

fracking rig

Fracking may bring more radium to the surface than conventional drilling techniques.

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