Public health and high volume hydraulic fracturing

New Solut. 2013;23(1):13-31. doi: 10.2190/NS.23.1.c.


High-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) in unconventional gas reserves has vastly increased the potential for domestic natural gas production. HVHF has been promoted as a way to decrease dependence on foreign energy sources, replace dirtier energy sources like coal, and generate economic development. At the same time, activities related to expanded HVHF pose potential risks including ground- and surface water contamination, climate change, air pollution, and effects on worker health. HVHF has been largely approached as an issue of energy economics and environmental regulation, but it also has significant implications for public health. We argue that public health provides an important perspective on policymaking in this arena. The American Public Health Association (APHA) recently adopted a policy position for involvement of public health professionals in this issue. Building on that foundation, this commentary lays out a set of five perspectives that guide how public health can contribute to this conversation.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution / prevention & control
  • Climate Change
  • Extraction and Processing Industry / economics
  • Extraction and Processing Industry / methods*
  • Natural Gas*
  • Public Health*
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Management
  • United States
  • Water Pollution / prevention & control


  • Natural Gas