Technological advances in directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing have resulted in a production boom of US petroleum reserves. It is increasingly common for oil and natural gas development to encroach on populated areas, exposing residents to a range of chemical, physical and psychosocial stressors that impact health and QOL. Little substantive research exists on this topic. We seek time-sensitive funding because a recent municipal moratorium on oil and gas drilling in Fort Collins, Colorado has opened a window of opportunity to compare changes in quality of life and subclinical biomarkers of health effects in this unaffected community to those in nearby Greeley, CO, where there is no moratorium and ongoing oil and gas development. Using a longitudinal design we will test the hypothesis that a population living in close proximity to oil and gas development experiences decreased quality of life and measureable changes in subclinical biomarkers of stress, cardiovascular health, and inflammation compared to a population without oil and gas development. We will measure changes in quality of life before, during and after oil and gas development in nearly 400 residents from both locations using a validated questionnaire. We will also collect repeat measures of subclinical biomarkers of effect for 30 subjects in each community. These subclinical biomarkers were chosen based on an analysis of biologic pathways that link psychosocial stress and air pollution to changes in cardiovascular function, systematic inflammation, and subsequent adverse health outcomes. By collecting baseline measurements and prospectively following these two populations, this work will develop data, tools and community networks needed to design and facilitate subsequent prospective studies that will provide insight on the health effects associated with this rapidly expanding industry.
More than 15 million U.S. residents live within one mile of an oil or gas well drilled since the year 2000, and more than 340,000 of these residents live in Colorado. There is a growing body of evidence that living near industrial facilities, like oil and gas development, can have detrimental impacts to mental health, QOL, and physical health. Given the growing segment of the population living near oil and gas development, small changes in health may lead to a considerable public health impact. The data, tools and community networks we develop will have substantial public health relevance for addressing the health effects associated with this rapidly expanding industry.