Industrial activities can pollute the air, water, and soil around nearby homes. If you are worried about your health because you live near unconventional oil and gas development (UOGD or “fracking”), you don’t need to wait for test results or illness to confirm your sense that you may be faced with health risks. You can take action now by reducing environmental exposures, keeping a health diary, and talking with a health care professional about your concerns.
1) Reduce Environmental Exposures
Living near UOGD (“fracking”) may expose you to harmful substances like chemicals and particle pollution in your air, water, and soil. Excessive light, noise, and vibration associated with UOGD can also pose health risks. While you can’t completely eliminate environmental exposures to potentially harmful pollutants, you can significantly reduce them.
The following research-based suggestions from EHP are aimed at assessing and reducing pollution in and around your home by using a combination of monitoring, cleaning, and other simple steps. Click on the printable document below and see our sections on Air, Water, and Soil for more information:
2) Keep a Health Diary
A Health Diary is a way for you to keep track of patterns in your health and the factors that might affect it. Particularly if you live near unconventional oil and gas development (UOGD or “fracking”), keeping a Health Diary may help you and your health care providers determine if there are connections between your environmental conditions and your health. Be sure to take your Health Diary to any medical appointments!
Where to Record Your Health Diary
There are many options available to record your health details:
- Write in a notebook or journal to record your entries.
- Use an online health diary.
- Use a smartphone app. EHP recommends Symple for Apple products and Medicalog for Android.
What to Include in Your Health Diary
It’s best to use your health diary every day but be sure to use it any time you notice a change in your health conditions or a change in environmental conditions. For each entry, be sure to write down the following:
- Symptoms: For nosebleeds, headaches, breathing problems, or other issues potentially associated with UOGD activity, keep track of what the symptoms are, how long they last, and whether they occur indoors or outdoors. If you have a skin condition, it may be helpful to take a picture. Symptoms like stress may also be related to UOGD and should be noted in your health diary.
- Environmental conditions: Record changes in water quality such as color, odor, taste, or sand residue. Also note any changes in air quality in and around your home such as odors or fine dust collecting on windows. You should also keep track of changes in industrial activities near your home (for example, increased truck traffic or a new drilling site) and any increases in light or noise pollution.
- Local weather conditions. Weather conditions can affect how pollution travels through the air, and may affect certain health problems like allergies and asthma. Keep notes on cloud cover, temperature, rain (light, moderate, or strong), and wind (general direction and speed).