Relationships between indicators of cardiovascular disease and intensity of oil and natural gas activity in Northeastern Colorado

Environ Res. 2019 Mar;170:56-64. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2018.12.004. Epub 2018 Dec 6.


Background: Oil and natural gas (O&G) extraction emits pollutants that are associated with cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of mortality in the United States.

Objective: We evaluated associations between intensity of O&G activity and cardiovascular disease indicators.

Methods: Between October 2015 and May 2016, we conducted a cross-sectional study of 97 adults living in Northeastern Colorado. For each participant, we collected 1-3 measurements of augmentation index, systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP and DBP), and plasma concentrations of interleukin (IL)- 1β, IL-6, IL-8 and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α). We modelled the intensity of O&G activity by weighting O&G well counts within 16 km of a participant's home by intensity and distance. We used linear models accounting for repeated measures within person to evaluate associations.

Results: Adjusted mean augmentation index differed by 6.0% (95% CI: 0.6, 11.4%) and 5.1% (95%CI: -0.1, 10.4%) between high and medium, respectively, and low exposure tertiles. The greatest mean IL-1β, and α-TNF plasma concentrations were observed for participants in the highest exposure tertile. IL-6 and IL-8 results were consistent with a null result. For participants not taking prescription medications, the adjusted mean SBP differed by 6 and 1 mm Hg (95% CIs: 0.1, 13 mm Hg and -6, 8 mm Hg) between the high and medium, respectively, and low exposure tertiles. DBP results were similar. For participants taking prescription medications, SBP and DBP results were consistent with a null result.

Conclusions: Despite limitations, our results support associations between O&G activity and augmentation index, SBP, DBP, IL-1β, and TNF-α. Our study was not able to elucidate possible mechanisms or environmental stressors, such as air pollution and noise.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Colorado / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension*
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Natural Gas
  • Oil and Gas Fields*
  • United States


  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Natural Gas