More Fracking Nonsense: Frac’ing Shrinks Infants

Guest post by David Middleton

This article and the underlying “study” can only be explained by a childhood diet rich in lead paint chips…

Study finds pregnant women who live near fracking areas more likely to have underweight babies


While scientists are unsure whether the pollution is coming from air, water, onsite chemicals or increased traffic, they say the results prove “hydraulic fracturing does have an impact on our health.”

They are now looking forward to investigating the source of the pollution and challenging lawmakers consider the dangers on health.


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 

They can’t identify a fracking-related pollutant or its source… Neither could Obama’s EPA. Yet, they conclusively prove that fracking kills babies (hyperbole intentional).

The “paper“* is mind-bogglingly idiot.

Table 1 explores differences in maternal characteristics, infant characteristics, and health outcomes between mothers who were potentially exposed to fracturing and those who were not. The first two columns show variable means for mothers whose residences were less than 1 km from a location (or multiple locations) that fractured. Columns (3) and (4) report the means for births to mothers who live within 3 to 15 km of a well location. These samples are further divided into those whose infants were born before the spud date (that is, the commencement of drilling)—thus, never exposed to fracking—and those whose babies were born after the spud date. When the mother is within 1 km of multiple locations, we use the earliest spud date to align with the approach used in the regression analysis.

The define fracking as “after the spud date” of a well that was frac’ed during the completion process.  This is Gasland-stupid and/or Gasland-dishonest.

This is their “evidence”:

Fig. 4 Effect of fracturing on infant health index, county fixed effects.  From Currie et al., 2017.

There is absolutely no meaningful trend. Just a spike on the sample closest to “fracking,” which is also, by far, the smallest sample.

How does crap like this pass peer review and get published?  This was actually published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  The only “journal” worthy of crap like this is:


[*]Currie, J. et al., Hydraulic fracturing and infant health: New evidence from Pennsylvania. Science Advances  13 Dec 2017:  Vol. 3, no. 12, e1603021

DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1603021

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December 18, 2017 7:04 am

That assertion is utterly ludicrous. Oh, by the way, I saw my grandmother leap over the moon last night…

Reply to  John
December 18, 2017 9:55 am

Does that make you 1/4 bovine?

Reply to  John
December 18, 2017 1:22 pm

I believe they would see more correlation if they checked birth weight against proximity to a school.

Louis Hooffstetter
Reply to  John
December 28, 2017 8:43 pm

But, but, but, isn’t fracking is a major cause of erectile dysfunction and women faking orgasms…?

Phillip Bratby
December 18, 2017 7:14 am

Love those confidence intervals, particularly for the first km.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
December 18, 2017 9:58 am

Regarding: “Just a spike on the sample closest to “fracking,” which is also, by far, the smallest sample.” It’s more ridiculous than that. The spike is not on the closest sample, but the second-closest one.

Reply to  Donald L. Klipstein
December 18, 2017 12:04 pm

Take a look at the graph again. The leftmost sample is the one under the low end to the left of the spike.

Reply to  Donald L. Klipstein
December 18, 2017 12:13 pm

Oops, my bad. The low end is a downward anomaly and the main anomaly. I was looking at the peak over the second sample when I was looking for a spike. The peak over the second sample corresponds to babies being probably slightly healthier than average.

Reply to  Donald L. Klipstein
December 18, 2017 12:23 pm

Well it does make sense that there are almost no samples right on top of a well bore. And the authors concede that the effects are highly local (0-1km) from the well bore.

“We find the largest effects for mothers living within 1 km of a site—a 25% increase in the probability of a low–birth weight birth (<2500 g) and significant declines in average birth weight, as well as in an index of infant health. There are also reductions in infant health for mothers living within 1 to 3 km of a fracking site, but the estimates are about one-third to one-half of the size of those for mothers within the 0- to 1-km band. There is little evidence of health effects at further distances, suggesting that health impacts are highly local."

Reply to  Donald L. Klipstein
December 18, 2017 12:26 pm


Correlation does not equal causality.

I grew up in rural PA during the summers. Tailings from open pit and other coal mining could just as easily be the reason — if they tend to drill fracking wells near old coal mine sites.

Count to 10
Reply to  Donald L. Klipstein
December 18, 2017 2:19 pm

This should really be displayed with the observed points scattered around and the error bars centered on the null hypothesis. I expect that the “results” are totally unreproduceable.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
December 18, 2017 2:25 pm

Yes, the high confidence interval on the first point indicates that there is no significant variation even for the first point, so there is no spike. To say there is a spike is a variation on the data miner’s salvation- those ever present “non-significant results”.

December 18, 2017 7:22 am

Thanks for all your insights David. Should be mind-bogglingly “idiotic” I’d guess.

December 18, 2017 7:24 am

Could this incidence of underweight babies have been caused by all those young strapping frackers coming to town?

This turned out to be the case in Cumbria’s leukemia cluster … and the story is also a good example of the pub(l)ic science process.

[PS, has anybody done a study on the correlation between Alien Abductions and the incidence of extra-marital affairs?]

Reply to  TonyN
December 18, 2017 9:30 am

“PS, has anybody done a study on the correlation between Alien Abductions and the incidence of extra-marital affairs?”

No I havent, but I heard that you can lead a horse to water, but it takes lead for every pencil.

Reply to  TonyN
December 18, 2017 6:33 pm

Tony how about extra-martian affairs?

December 18, 2017 7:24 am

Well that was interesting…..Washington and Bradford counties in Penn have the highest number of fracking…and also high poverty and drug use

Reply to  Latitude
December 18, 2017 4:00 pm

Indeed, and malnutrition and drug use do result in low birth-weight babies….

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  pameladragon
December 19, 2017 4:50 am

pameladragon – December 18, 2017 at 4:00 pm

Indeed, and malnutrition and drug use do result in low birth-weight babies….

To be more precise, ……. drug addiction by the parent(s) result in their birthed children being: (1) low birth-weight; ……. (2) learning disabled; ……. (3) physically deformed/handicapped; …… and/or (4) stunted growth and low body mass due to neglect and malnutrition during their “formative” pre-teen years.

The above stated facts can be verified by checking US Public School Records for the numbers of “learning disabled” and “birth-handicapped” children being enrolled as students each and very year. The numbers of the aforesaid students started increasing exponentially after the 1970’s drug usage escalated and the “users” started birthing children.

The learning disabled/birth-handicapped problem has become so great that every Public School System in the US of A now employees at least one (1) Special Education Teacher, something that was never heard of or needed prior to the “Wacky Tobacca Revolution”.

Reply to  Latitude
December 18, 2017 6:07 pm

So drug use causes fracking.
I always wondered about that.

Reply to  Latitude
December 18, 2017 6:16 pm

These people seem to imply if you can find a well where the babies health is better within 1k then that would prove fracking is good for babies.

Ben of Houston
December 18, 2017 7:26 am

Assuming that the effect is real, you have a second problem. People living that close to a wellhead aren’t representative. They are much more likely to be poorer and rural, This is the same issue as people living right next to industrial districts, railroads, and high power lines. It’s a proxy for wealth. The only issue is that it’s a much poorer proxy than other options, leading to a much weaker effect.

This is yet another study that, after you cut out the preconceived answer, boils down to that it stinks to be poor.

Tom Halla
December 18, 2017 7:37 am

Given the things the “study” did not control for, one could as easily claim the birthweight anomaly was caused by noise pollution from the rig. Or the mother’s exposure to meth. Or opiates. Or just poverty in general.

Reply to  Tom Halla
December 18, 2017 7:51 am

I don’t see why fracturing would have an impact. The truck traffic and rig noise could be stressful, especially if they are used to a fairly low noise environment. The data doesn’t show much of a trend, but I do feel companies need to do a better job studying these issues ahead of time.

Many years ago I had a team leader in my group go out and spot a well pad about 100 meters from a ranch house whose owner was a very nice old man, who owned thousands of acres. I heard about it from the field manager who felt the site was going to cause bad relations with the man, so I got in my car with a surveyor, a drilling engineer, and the surface construction team leader, visited the site, and found a perfectly good location about 400 meters away, which required a bit more road but made the old man really happy. After that I had to give a pep talk to the whole office about improving the way they related to landowners, tenants, and others in the area, watch out for better ways to route truck traffic etc.

I’m explaining this because even though the study looks bogus, the oil industry does have yahoos who need straightening out so they have better manners.

kokoda - AZEK (Deck Boards) doesn't stand behind its product
Reply to  fernandoleanme
December 18, 2017 8:06 am


Reply to  fernandoleanme
December 18, 2017 2:00 pm

” ,. . . . the oil industry does have yahoos who need straightening out so they have better manners.”
The oil industry is far from unique.
Very far.


Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  fernandoleanme
December 19, 2017 5:13 am

fernandoleanme – December 18, 2017 at 7:51 am

The truck traffic and rig noise could be stressful, especially if they are used to a fairly low noise environment.

Fernand, given the fact you are a self-defined expert on things associated with activities involving the “oil/gas” exploration/drilling etc., ……please tell everyone just “how many days” a homeowner would have to tolerate truck traffic and drilling rig noise before the well was “shut-in” and all noisy equipment moved off-site.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  fernandoleanme
December 19, 2017 5:28 am

And ps, Fernando, …… when my mother was pregnant with me, an extremely loud noise scared the bejesus out of her, …….causing her to drop several 78 RPM phonograph records on the hardwood floor, ….. but that incident never affected me, ….. affected me, ….. affected me, ….. affected me.

Cheers, Eritas

December 18, 2017 7:41 am

Notice that there is no reason to expect any correlation here on births. Claiming causality (correlations) strictly on the basis of sample correlations is a no-no. One can ALWAYS
find a correlation that is “statistically significnat’ (which often is actually insignifcant in the effects)
is one looks at enough dependent variables. For example, these folks could have selected all manner of variates and calculated a correlation for each – number of headaches, cancer incidence,
lifespan, shoe size, height, weight, chloresterol, you name it. Do this with enough variates are you are pretty much guaranteed that you will find a fracking-distance correlation that is “statistically significant” at, say the .05 level. The proper next step is to cross validate that correlation using a new, different set of data points. The correlation will then disappear. This is a perfect example of
violation of the science rule that the researcher must present a theory of a suspected correlation
stating the reason for the correlation, BEFORE doing any sampling, and calculating correlation coefficients. In this particular case, the data doesn’t even support a linear correlation and should
never have been published by any science journal just on that basis alone.
Fracking is a lightning rod that attracts junk science research like this.

Reply to  arthur4563
December 18, 2017 2:02 pm

“Fracking is a lightning rod that attracts junk science research like this.”

“Fracking is a lightning rod that attracts junk research like this.”



Andy Pattullo
December 18, 2017 8:03 am

The fact this gets published tells us all we need to know about the status of scientific endeavor today. There are many skilled, reputable scientists who know how to do research and who publish honestly but they apear to be vastly outnumbered by incompetent, dishonest opportunists.

December 18, 2017 8:05 am

This paper was thoroughly destroyed the moment it became public, but that won’t stop the headlines. Or maybe it’s true pregnant women should stay between 1-2 km away from fracking operations at all times if they want the healthiest baby possible.

Reply to  RWturner
December 18, 2017 10:54 pm

Yes it ignores the look-elsewhere-effect but that doesn’t seem to stop anything in Pseudosciences.

Peter Plail
December 18, 2017 8:05 am

Or could the effect possibly be caused by stress induced by fracking protesters occupying the the vicinity of the fracking site.

December 18, 2017 8:06 am

How does this cr@p get published?
Because it fits the current ecoloon paradigm that fracking is evil.

Bill Powers
Reply to  Bitter&twisted
December 18, 2017 8:47 am

No. propagandists, long ago, figured out they can swing undecideds to their message with THE “it’s for the Children” ploy.. If you favor fracking you hate children. It has become a Hail Mary strategy in the CAGW propaganda movement.

Steve Zell
December 18, 2017 8:13 am

If you believe Currie et al’s Figure 4, the healthiest babies are born between 1 and 2 km of a fracking well.

So let’s draw a ring between 1 at 2 km of every fracking well in the USA, and build maternity wards in every ring. Just don’t get too close…

Reply to  Steve Zell
December 20, 2017 2:28 pm

The cite says J. Currie. Is that defamatory against Judith Curry?

Mark from the Midwest
December 18, 2017 8:26 am

Pretty simple really, most locations where fracking occurs are low-income rural areas, and the incidence of problem / premature births is extremely high. I don’t have the Census data handy, it’s in the micro-data, and I don’t have time to roll it up, cluster by cluster, but just take my word for it.

In regard to the authors, Currie in particular has some really odd-ball ideas about public health, or health in general, and seems to completely divorce it from any personal action. To her it’s all about economics, and she’s and endless shill for a nanny-state mentality

December 18, 2017 8:28 am

Elevation does have an effect, elevation of wells in Colorado would cause proximity to correlate with smaller birth weight, but not be the cause.

December 18, 2017 8:30 am

Maybe to much pop and chips eaten by pregnant mothers? See it all the time in the grocery stores after the baby is born, don’t have enough money for all the groceries, so put the pablum and diapers back and keep the pop and chips, not to mention keeping the cigarettes too. Yes the father is there too, someone has to drive the new pickup truck.

December 18, 2017 8:46 am image

Now we need a graph for the prevalence of neck injuries caused by head shaking due to retarded studies.

Fracking babies? … Seriously?! … This is supposed to be evidence? … [Ahhh!, I just pulled a neck muscle!]

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
December 18, 2017 2:34 pm

From this [Eastern] side of the Ditch – I have literally no idea of what the map represents.
Apparently it is an are with – taking logarithmic mid-points of birth estimates – with something like 100 000 – 150 000 births per year. The UK has about 700 000 births per year, so this would seem to cover a total population of – roughly 10-20 million [with some approximations made in my head, making those bounds definitely not hard bounds].
I have, by inspection, discounted all the lower 48 – as states.
But – is it a county, or some other bundled area.
Is it some part of a state – Oklahoma? Texas?

There has been much fracking, so I guess not California.
[Mods – /Sarc for the last comment, just in case you missed it!
Is California still anti hydropower, still, too?].


Reply to  Auto
December 18, 2017 4:09 pm

You are looking at the State of Pennsylvania.

Reply to  Auto
December 18, 2017 4:12 pm

The area in the southeast corner with the highest birth rate is the region around Philadelphia. The area in the southwest corner is the region around Pittsburg.

Reply to  Auto
December 18, 2017 4:30 pm

I didn’t pick that up at all.
Much appreciated.


Reply to  Auto
December 18, 2017 5:09 pm

The fractured wells represented in the map are in the Marcellus Formation. The Marcellus is the largest shale gas reservoir in the USA. Here is a primer from Wikipedia…

In general, the wells are in sparsely populated areas.

Bill Powers
December 18, 2017 8:51 am

American Association for the Advancement of Science needs to change it’s name to the American Association for the Advancement of Propaganda.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Bill Powers
December 18, 2017 8:58 am

The AASS jumped the shark some decades ago when they started accepting parapsychology as science.

Reply to  Bill Powers
December 18, 2017 9:17 am

American Association for the Advancement of Stupidity … [no letter changes required]

December 18, 2017 8:52 am

The 80 20 rule does not work on campuses. The 90 10 rule must be applied in their case because the checks and balances of society do not apply there.

This explains their applications as trade protectionist researchers also…

December 18, 2017 9:31 am

Maybe undersized babies will make up for all the growth hormones in our food that snowflakes are wetting their pants over.

Walter Sobchak
December 18, 2017 9:50 am

You can find a lot more correlations like this one at:

A sample:

US spending on science, space, and technology correlates with Suicides by hanging, strangulation and suffocation
Correlation: 99.79% (r=0.99789126)

Number of people who drowned by falling into a pool correlates with Films Nicolas Cage appeared in
Correlation: 66.6% (r=0.666004)

Per capita cheese consumption correlates with Number of people who died by becoming tangled in their bedsheets
Correlation: 94.71% (r=0.947091)

Divorce rate in Maine correlates with Per capita consumption of margarine
Correlation: 99.26% (r=0.992558)

Age of Miss America correlates with Murders by steam, hot vapours and hot objects
Correlation: 87.01% (r=0.870127)

Total revenue generated by arcades correlates with Computer science doctorates awarded in the US
Correlation: 98.51% (r=0.985065)

Reply to  Walter Sobchak
December 18, 2017 10:02 am


December 18, 2017 10:30 am

Let’s look at the good side of this. It reduces the number of infants who are “obese!”

Keith J
Reply to  Neil Lock
December 18, 2017 5:45 pm

The group second closest to a well is also heaviest. Two data points? Worth less than a bucket of warm spit.

December 18, 2017 10:37 am

In New Zealand they have science presentations in pubs as part of greater communication.
Here is a link to a related in womb effect on babies. I found it most interesting, the presenter is very engaging.
All is not what it appears.

J Mac
December 18, 2017 10:58 am

I knew it! I used to be 6 feet 2 inches tall and now I’m only 6 feet 1.5 inches!
Fracking is what done it !!!!!!!!!!!

December 18, 2017 11:09 am

As with many things, the name signals the opposite in fact. AAAS diminishes science by publishing this dreck. Obama’s ACA raised health insurance premiums. The ‘pink slime’ kerfuffle was about lean finely textured beef. ANTFA uses facist tactics identical to Brownshirts in Germany in the 1930s. And so on.

Frederick Mackintosh
Reply to  ristvan
December 18, 2017 2:35 pm

I subscribed to AAAS journal Science from the 60’s and off and on into the early 2000’s. But I gave it up when it became a leftist warmist alarmist magazine.

December 18, 2017 11:14 am

“And last week it emerged that on seven separate occasions, protesters in Lancashire made bogus 999 calls to the ambulance service, claiming they had been injured by police – but then refused to go to hospital, saying they were unhurt. Meanwhile, traffic chaos caused by protesters has delayed the response to genuine emergencies at least twice.”

They’re starting to upset the locals.

December 18, 2017 11:23 am

All linear time series correlate exacly.
Any time series can be linearized using an appropriate time interval, error range, or the application of a math functon ( like log, sqrt, squared etc.)
Therefore, any two time series can be forced to have high correlation.

Reply to  Cbr
December 18, 2017 2:55 pm

So higher inflation in 1960s and 1970s UK, and Geoff Boycott’s run-scoring [In Tests, and in first-class cricket]

Note for American readers – Test Matches are the highest level of cricket, played between countries.
They are [normally] scheduled over five days, and sometime result in a draw.
And there is no penalty shoot-out [or equivalent].

(Although, recently, when England [~the UK] plays Australia, they seldom go into the fifth day, and, in Australia, Australia wins.)


Aarne H
December 18, 2017 12:29 pm

This is not the first questionable “health” study in the Marcellus. A key feature to all these flawed studies: no actual data or measurements on pollution. Baseline data? They don’t account for other factors such as smoking (+alcohol & drug use), access to health care etc. Rather than being a proper epidemiological study they are examples of confirmation bias. Does the study indicate a clear link? No. What will the MSM report on? The title of the study.

A rebuttal to one of the previous papers (Casey, Savitz, Rasmussen et al) from Dr.Tony Cox.

Glen Martin
December 18, 2017 1:12 pm

Only correlation and no mechanism.

Someone could do a similar study looking for correlation between birth weights and the race of the nearest neighbors and determine that living next door to certain ethnic minorities causes lower birth weights.

December 18, 2017 1:56 pm

What is the correlation between nonsensical data and nonsensical, nonfalsifiable conclusions of causality?

I think the R squared factor must be 1. Maybe even higher! 🙂

December 18, 2017 2:02 pm

Meanehile over in Britain, they might be regretting having been so hesitant to adopt fracking to get some much needed natural gas this winter.

Seven things have just happened causing UK gas prices to climb sharply and for winter supply to sufficiency to be seriously in doubt:

1. Explosion 💥 at the Baumgarten gas facility in Austria where Russian gas enters western Europe.

2. Forties pipeline, largest source of North Sea gas, damaged reducing gas flow for weeks or months

3. Morcambe field gas output halved due to technical problems

4. Gas pipeline between Holland and Britain reduced in flow due to problems with a compressor

5. The Rough subsea gas storage facility off Yorkshire was shut down in the summer due to bureaucratic apathy and ignorance.

6. Norway’s Troll platform reduced gas output significantly due to a power outage

7. Closure of coal power plants in the UK due to green-religious intolerance of sources of energy that are black.

An 8th could be the more than usual uselessness if solar and wind in the winter especially when it is cold.

All these are combining to threaten winter heating for millions of British residents, whose well-being is sacrificed on an alter of CAGW virtue-signalling.

So the UK has become “No country for old men”. One might well pose the question asked by hitman Anton Chigur:

“If the rule you followed brought you to this, what use was the rule?”

Go Home
December 18, 2017 2:51 pm

They should do the same study using distance from pipelines carrying oil and distance from railroads carrying oil. And maybe include direct deaths associated with each (pipeline leaks/explosions vs derailments/explosions).

December 18, 2017 2:52 pm

This study is total nonsense. After 70 years of fracing, there is nothing, absolutely nothing that shows any negative effects from this process. If true, this study would suggest that anyone living in Texas or Wyoming is a midget.

If they wanted to do a proper study they would follow the lives of the employees of Halliburton, Baker and Schlumberger to see if there is a common malady. But I wouldn’t even trust that study knowing that Gloria Allred and Claire Bloom could be paying off unscrupulous workers.

Unless a study is “double blind” it has NO validity. Studies like this are only there to gather support from the uninformed public to back a cause supported only by hysteria. Because I’ve already seen the above study in an article in the Denver Post, you know that the antifa/green/Bernie Sanders crowd is building support amoungst the Boulderites to spread this hysteria.

Reply to  SMS
December 19, 2017 11:22 am

Unless a study is “double blind” it has NO validity.


I can guarantee you a non- double blind study on the effects of 45 caliber bullets fired at human targets is quite valid.

Meta-analysis of epidemiological data is also a valid way to conduct a study.

Now, if you are trying to control for placebo or investigator bias– then yes a double blind study is warranted.

Plenty of studies can be conducted without using “double blind” methodology.

December 18, 2017 2:59 pm

Here’s a thought: More fracking locations means more local, higher paying jobs for more people, which means higher incomes, which means more money to buy cigarettes.

Anybody done a study on how higher-income, fracking communities might enable more pregnant women to smoke or more men to smoke around pregnant women, when smoking is seemingly a known cause for low birth weight?

December 18, 2017 3:04 pm

SMS December 18, 2017 at 2:52 pm

“Because I’ve already seen the above study in an article in the Denver Post, you know that the antifa/green/Bernie Sanders crowd is building support amongst the Boulderites to spread this hysteria”


Nothing scientific – even ‘vaguely scientific’ – in this or many other studies.
Pure Fabian Caliphate.

In a world of some 7,588 million people . . . . .
[See – ]
I don’t doubt other estimates are available.

And the aim is a world population of 500-750 (max) million people, most of whom will be slaves/concubines/catamites of the favoured few[and all those pushing this hope they, or their heirs, will be in that favoured few.


December 18, 2017 3:12 pm

This paper shows that the field of epidemiology has gone absolutely nowhere in the last several decades. Those who use bogus epidemiology in naked power grabs to support anti-industry campaigns, know no limit to their dishonesty.

This kind of study where populations are compared based on a single geographic criterion, are called ecological studies. Several decades ago, in the nuclear related field of radiation carcinogenesis, such ecological studies showed an interesting apparent trend. If you plot rates of death from cancer in the USA with regional levels of background radiation, epidemiologist Bernard Cohen found an unexpected correlation: the higher the natural radioactivity, the lower were cancer mortality rates.

Cohen argued that this proved the hypothesis of “radiation hormesis”, that low level radiation was beneficial to health. However the epidemiology scientific community rejected this conclusion based on the fundamental weaknesses of ecological studies. Basically, there are many confounding factors much more powerful than radiation in causing cancer and shortened lifespan. By far the largest of them is socioeconomic status. While radiation and environmental toxins might shave hours, days or weeks off your life, socioeconomic status adds or subtracts decades to life expectancy. So overwhelmingly dominant is socioeconomics over all other factors, that practically every supposed finding of a risk factor in an ecological study, is is fact simply revealing an asymmetry in economic standard of living. This Cohen’s study had basically shown that regions of the USA, such as in mountains or other areas of natural beauty, which for geological reasons had higher levels of background natural radioactivity, also tended to be inhabited by richer people.

(By the way I do consider that low level radiation is indeed either neutral or slightly beneficial to health based on numerous consistent animal studies showing that immune stimulus via heat shock proteins actually reduces cancer incidence and extends lifespan, repeatably on mice. At “best” – or worst – ionizing radiation is a very weak carcinogen dwarfed by other risk factors.)

A consequence of studies such as Cohen’s was that the epidemiology community essentially rejected the ecological study as a credible way and of assessing environmental risks to a population, due to insuperable statistical confounding, mainly by socioeconomic status. This was back in the 1980’s.

And yet here we are in 2017 and the anti-fracking activists are conducting an ecological study claiming to show proximity to a fracking site affects health statistics of newborns. Where is their controlling for economic status? Most likely they have just discovered that rich people prefer to live far away from fracking sites.

Some decades ago in the UK some studies claimed to show “clusters” of statistically excessive incidence of leukaemia in the vicinity of nuclear plant. Oddly this including those under construction but not yet actually running any nuclear reactions or generating any radioactivity. Looking further, it was found that any new large industrial project with a nee workforce moving to it from different parts of the country, tended to have a small excess of leukaemia cases. A hypothesis was advanced that leukaemia is a very rare outcome of common infections like colds or flu. When a new industrial project attracts workers from many distant areas to move to a location, there is always an increase in levels of infectious disease such as colds and flu since people are exposed to non-local strains of pathogen against which they have no immunity. Thus, more colds, more flu and slightly more leukaemias.

This effect was called the “migrant worker” effect; something like it might explain a small incidence of negative health outcomes where a new industry – fracking, or anything else – comes to a location.

All of this epidemiological knowledge has been ignored in this amateurish, naive and utterly flawed zombie-like ecological study, whose own wording makes it clear that its writers have interest only in an anti-industry political outcome, and could not be more ignorant and contemptuous of actual epidemiological science.

Remember – the overwhelmingly dominant factor determining life span and every health indicator, is economic. If a new industry brings economic uplift to a region, then any number of “risk factors de jour” invoked by Malthusian misanthropists opposition economic advancement, will not come within two orders of magnitude of approaching the benefit to human health, wellbeing and lifespan that are brought by proven technologies and industries such as fracking, nuclear power and all other life-giving industries that fill the Malthusians with intolerant nightmares of a growing and happy human population.

Reply to  ptolemy2
December 18, 2017 3:18 pm

OK the last sentence is horribly run-on but you get the point!

R.S. Brown
December 18, 2017 3:27 pm

Reader’s note:

The ‘J. Currie” cited as lead author of the Science Advances article is
Jane Currie … not Janet Currie.

December 18, 2017 3:39 pm

good science is in no way the same as good PR BS , in this case the authors have gone for the second ans care nothing for first . in other words classic climate ‘science’

Steve from Rockwood
December 18, 2017 4:26 pm

It’s a well known fact that pregnant women who live near oil wells never leave their homes (at least until fracking is completed), therefore the results are accurate.

K. Kilty
December 18, 2017 4:58 pm

“artical” is spelled “article”

December 18, 2017 10:06 pm

The study is statistical nonsense — epidemiological idiocy. There is not even a proposed biological plausibility — needs to be raked over by honest medical statisticians and retracted. They speak of “exposure” but there is nothing to be exposed to….this is worse than the old discredited studies of “cancer clusters” being found near some single-issue groups boogeyman — power lines or magical underground currents.

December 19, 2017 12:57 am

Unadjusted for social class/income/diet/heredity of course. Yep, forget all other factors!

Reply to  MattS
December 21, 2017 10:23 am

Actually they did assess/evaluate based on:

Marital status
Educational Level (no HS through Advanced degree)
Number of Children
Birth order of child

It’s in table 1 (not figure 1) — click the pop-up in the paper

December 19, 2017 1:05 am

The obvious fault is that they don’t compare pre-spud with post-spud birth weights.

Without that it is meaningless.

If you can show that weights CHANGE with fracking you might have something. Without that it is just a line on a graph that could mean anything.

December 19, 2017 2:50 am

another instance of p-hacking. Search something wrong “near fracking areas ” (for whatever this means) in a database of thousand of things that could be wrong, and you’ll find a few dozen for sure in the statistical noise.

December 19, 2017 3:27 am

I’d rather see a correlation graph of the infant survival rate w/ respect to distance from an abortion clinic.

Oh, and divide the women into two groups–Democrat vs. Republican, and see which ideology is the most dangerous to humanity.

With 1,3000,000 babies aborted every year, I’m betting there’s one ideology that has some serious ‘splaining to do!

The compare the magnitude of the impact against this study to see which is least beneficial.

December 19, 2017 8:02 am

Is this a cut and paste job from the power lines cause this and that lawyer/advocacy claims?

December 19, 2017 12:43 pm

” Frac’ing Shrinks Infants”

Thank God I never let any of my kids be frac’ed.

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