In the Neighborhood of 18 Million: Estimating How Many People Live Near Oil and Gas Wells

In this study, Czolowski’s team examined residential proximity to both conventional and unconventional oil and gas wells. They limited their analysis to wells that were confirmed as active at the time of the study. Data on the location and status of oil and gas wells in 30 states came from state regulatory databases and an oil and gas industry database called DrillingInfo, which consolidates data from regulatory agencies in a more study-ready format. Their final analysis included 808,485 active wells, with conventional wells comprising nearly 90%. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the researchers estimated that 17.6 million people lived within 1 mile of an active well as of 2010. That’s roughly 6% of the population of the contiguous United States. This number includes 1.4 million young children, 1.1 million elderly people, 2.9 million Hispanic individuals, and 6.4 million non-Hispanic minority individuals. Ohio, West Virginia, and Oklahoma led the states in terms of percentage of their populations living near active wells, while Texas had the greatest number of people—4.5 million—living within a 1-mile buffer zone. After reviewing previously published analyses, the researchers concluded that studies focused mainly on proximity to unconventional wells may have underestimated how many people are at risk for oil and gas development–related exposures. For example, some studies did not include proximity to conventional wells, even though they, t...
Source: EHP Research - Category: Environmental Health Authors: Tags: Science Selection Source Type: research

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