Hi all…a very interesting paper entitled “Drinking water, fracking, and infant health” appeared online in the Journal of Health Economics on Jan. 30, 2022. It is a fascinating paper in a number of ways and makes some thought provoking observations/assumptions. The final sentence in the abstract suggests that the paper provides “impetus for re-visiting the regulation of public drinking water.” It’s a bold statement!

The authors state in the conclusions that “The paper’s findings indicate large social costs of water pollution through health and highlight drinking water as a specific exposure pathway for an emerging industry with little environmental regulation. In particular, our estimates reveal that SGD increases regulated contaminants found in drinking water, but not enough to trigger regulatory violations, and that these operations yield measurable health impacts that could either be due to increases in regulated water contaminants below the threshold or unregulated water contaminants that we, unfortunately, cannot observe. Future work to identify the sources of water contamination is needed to determine whether net benefits would arise from increasing the stringency of currently-regulated contaminants or expanding the set of regulated contaminants.”

Bill  ___________________________________________________________

Drinking water, fracking, and infant health

Elaine L. Hill, Lala Ma

Journal of Health Economics 82 (2022) 102595


“This study assesses the health risks associated with drinking water contamination using variation in the timing and location of shale gas development (SGD). Our novel dataset, linking health and drinking water outcomes to shale gas activity through water sources, enables us to provide new estimates of the causal effects of water pollution on health and to isolate drinking water as a specific mechanism of exposure for SGD. We find consistent and robust evidence that drilling shale gas wells negatively impacts both drinking water quality and infant health. These results indicate large social costs of water pollution and provide impetus for re-visiting the regulation of public drinking water.”