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CO Top Medical Officer: Fracking Poses No Health Risks

Dr. Larry Wolk, the chief medical officer of Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment, has angered anti-fracking activists by boldly stating that fracking has no adverse health effects.

Speaking to The Greeley Tribune, Wolk pointed out that the amount of toxins created by fracking was insignificant and would not pose a danger to the public. He said, “Nobody would argue that this stuff isn’t toxic, but it’s all about exposure to toxins, and we don’t see anything to be concerned with at this point in time.”

To buttress his argument, Wolk noted that the areas in the state with the most fracking don’t have higher rates of health conditions than other areas; in fact, rates of health conditions in some of the fracking areas are lower than those reported in areas devoid of fracking.

As The Daily Caller wrote:

Environmentalists repeatedly claim that fracking can contaminate groundwater supplies and cause health issues. However, numerous scientific studies from regulatory bodies, academics, the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Science Foundation and even the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that fracking does not contaminate groundwater. Even studies that were financially supported by environmentalists found fracking has no adverse effect on water quality.

Wolk has been fighting with the anti-fracking zealots for years. In 2014,the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), whose researchers are famous within the activist community for asserting that people living within a half-mile of natural gas wells may have an increased lifetime cancer risk, issued a new paper trying to link birth defects and natural gas development by analyzing the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s birth records from 1996 to 2009.

Wolk, who was CDPHE’s Chief Medical Officer and Executive Director, blasted the researchers, writing:

It is difficult to draw conclusions from this study, due to its design and limitations … as the authors noted, they used all existing wells but did not distinguish between active wells and inactive wells. Similarly, the study does not identify the type of wells, such as conventional (vertical), horizontal, oil or natural gas wells. The study also did not look at air quality or water quality … For birth outcomes with very few cases, such as neural tube defects, the authors did not consider the effect that other risk factors may have played … The personal behaviors of the mothers are very important risk factors for all birth defects.

He pointed out: “The study showed decreased risk of pre-term birth with greater exposure. This seems counterintuitive, and again, makes the study difficult to interpret.”

Wolk concluded, “Lastly, the authors cite nearly three pages of ‘limitations’ to their findings (pages 14-16). And, the findings showed only association, not causation, and the statistical differences in birth defects were miniscule.”

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