Health studies needed if N.S. approves fracking
The report says more study is needed to determine the longer-term risks of respiratory problems and exposures to chemicals used in fracking
HALIFAX—An expert says a province-wide study on the health impacts of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas is needed if the Nova Scotia government approves the process.
Dr. Frank Atherton makes the recommendation in a paper to a review panel examining whether fracking should be permitted.
Atherton is the province’s deputy chief medical officer of health but is serving independently with the review panel.
His study says a health assessment would determine what measures are needed to counter potential risks.
His 18-page report says more study is needed to determine the longer-term risks of respiratory problems and exposures to chemicals used in fracking.
Atherton also says companies should be required to publicly list the chemicals they use.
He says hydraulic fracturing would brings jobs and income to the province and helps displace the use of coal.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves blasting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into a well bore to fracture the surrounding rock and release the trapped hydrocarbons, usually natural gas, coalbed methane or crude oil.
The process has been used in one form or another since the late 1940s, but environmentalists say they are more concerned about a relatively new process known has high-volume fracking in shale deposits, which was first used in Canada in 2005.