Date of Award

Spring 5-2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor(s)

ARCH CARSON MD PHD

Second Advisor

STEPHEN H LINDER PHD

Third Advisor

JULIE GRAVES MD MPH PHD

Abstract

Unconventional gas and oil drilling (UGOD) has increased substantially in the United States for more than a decade. The resultant environmental unsafe air pollution effects of UGOD both locally and regionally have been well documented in the literature. Despite the dramatic increase in unconventional well drilling and the toxicant exposure, the health consequences of UGOD remain largely uncertain. This study assesses the relationship between active wells and healthcare use for respiratory diseases by zip code from 2004 to 2008 in the Barnett shale area of Texas. The first modern shale gas well was drilled in the Barnett shale area of Texas and is a particularly important area to study this relationship because its location is in close proximity to residential areas in the Dallas Fort Worth metropolitan area and Texas is one of the leading states in UGOD practices. Our study identified spatial locations of Unconventional gas wells and correlated Inpatient hospital admission data from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) with active wells by zip code in the eight counties of the Barnett shale area in Texas. The relationship between the inpatient prevalence rates for 4 respiratory disease categories, and the number of active wells per zip code and wells per kilometer squared were estimated using mixed effects negative binomial models. There was a significant association between well density and Asthma incidence (p = .024) and inpatient prevalence rate per 1,000 for patients 18 years and older (p = .055) and wells density. Additionally, our result shows a higher likelihood of patients being hospitalised for Overall respiratory disease category and COPD per 1,000 people per year in 2008 compared to the baseline year 2004. Further studies are needed to determine specific toxicants or combinations that are associated with organ specific responses.

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