Exposure to hydraulic fracking activities during pregnancy is attributed to community-level stressors. The stressors include degradation of the natural environment and neighborhoods, like toxic wastewater production, and an increase in truck traffic which harm women mentally.
A new study led by a researcher at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health identifies a link between proximity to hydraulic fracking activities and mental health issues during pregnancy. Results appear in the journal Environmental Research.
The researchers looked at 7,715 mothers without anxiety or depression at the time of conception, who delivered at the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania between January 2009 and January 2013. They compared women who developed anxiety or depression during pregnancy with those who did not to see if the women's proximity to hydraulic fracturing activity played a role. Hydrofracking locations were available through public sources.
First author Joan Casey, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, points to several possible reasons why living near fracking sites could lead to mental health problems in women. "Fracking activities may act as community-level stressors by degrading the quality of the natural environment, neighborhoods, such as by the production of toxic wastewater and increases in truck traffic, leading residents to feel a lack of control that harms their health," says Casey. "Another possibility is that air pollution from the sites could be directly contributing to mental health problems in this vulnerable population. Future research could examine other potential factors like air quality, noise, light pollution, psychosocial stress, and perception of activities."