Hydrofracking impact on the health of livestock and humans– new study from two Cornell researchers

Two Cornell researchers just released an important  academic study on impact of hydrofracking on the heath of livestock and humans. This study also raises serious questions about safety and monitoring of the food supply.  Dr. Oswald is a professor of molecular biology at Cornell Vet School, and Dr. Bamberger is a practicing veterinarian from Cornell.

I’ve attached the study here. Bamberger_Oswald_NS22_in_press

Below I’ve pasted one of their case studies, on a beef herd with mass deaths of adult cattle as well as  stillbirths. This study goes directly to the concerns raised last week by Dr. Portier of the CDC.

This new information is likely to effect on how farmers think about gas drilling, as they consider the health of their livestock, and potential impact on the marketability of their agricultural products.

Case 2

In this case, a beef cattle farmer had a herd of 96 cattle (Angus Limousine cross) that was divided among three pastures. The farm is located in an area of intensive gas drilling, with two active shallow vertical gas wells on the farmer’s property and approximately 190 active gas wells within five miles of the property; of these, approximately 11 are shale gas wells and approximately 26 are deep vertical gas wells. In one pasture, 60 cows (a mixed herd, mostly 5- to 10-year-old bred cows) had access to a creek as a source of water. In a second pasture, 20 cows (bred yearlings) obtained water from hillside runoff, and in a third pasture, 14 feeder calves (8 to 14 months old) and two bulls had access to a pond. Over a three-month period, 21 head from the creek-side pasture died (17 adult bred cows and 4 calves). All the cattle were healthy before this episode.
Despite symptomatic treatment, deaths occurred 1 to 3 days after the cows went down and were unable to rise. Basic diagnostics were done, but no cause of death was determined. On rendering, 16 of the 17 adults were found to have dead fetuses, nearly doubling this farmer’s losses. Of the 39 cows on the creek-side pasture that survived, 16 failed to breed and several cows produced stillborn calves with white and blue eyes. The health of the cattle on the other two pastures was unaffected; on the second pasture, only one cow failed to breed. Historically, the health of the herd was good, the farmer reporting average losses of 1-2 cows a year in his herd of nearly 100 cattle.
This is an interesting case because it has a natural control group. That is, the
cattle that were kept along the creek suffered severe problems while the cattle in pastures at a higher elevation and away from the creek experienced no morbidity or mortality. As discussed below, the contamination of the creek may have been caused by illegal dumping of wastewater. Fortunately, these cows were not taken to slaughter, as they died on the farm. However, they still may have entered our food chain as well as that of our pets: rendering plants produce feed for many non-ruminants including chickens, pigs, cats, dogs and horses, so it is possible that chickens, raised for egg production or meat, and pigs were fed the flesh from these cattle.




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8 Responses to Hydrofracking impact on the health of livestock and humans– new study from two Cornell researchers

  1. Celia Janosik says:

    If animals are fed contaminated feed, will we ever know why they get sick or die? How about venison, wild game? Is this how they plan to decrease the human population?
    No living creature will be safe. Food is shipped great distances?

  2. Pingback: Cornell Study finds Cattle Deaths tied to Hydrofracking | Goldilocks Finds Manhattan

  3. Pingback: It is fracking intense

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  5. Marthe Reynolds says:

    Has this article been shared with Gov. Cuomo’s office? I am hoping so, please confirm!
    Thank you.

  6. Pingback: Study Calls for Drilling Ban - Fly Fisherman

  7. Ken Jaffe says:

    Correction of “Fly Fisherman” magazine comments on article on livestock health risks from hydrofracking.
    The comments on this post include a ‘pingback’ which links a report in “Fly Fisherman”. http://www.flyfisherman.com/2012/01/19/study-calls-for-drilling-ban/Study Calls for Drilling Ban
    It is important that Fly Fisherman is coverning this issue. Especially in light of the statement by Dr. Portier of the CDC concerning the need to clarify the risk to human health from eating sport fish contaminated by gas drilling activities.
    But the Fly Fisherman article included several errors concerning the Bamberger/Osborne journal article, including questioning whether it was peer reviewed, or scientific. In fact the Osborne/Bamberger article was both.
    I’ve taken the liberty of posting Drs. Osborne and Bamberger’s response to Fly Fisherman.

    Dear Mr. Randolph,
    Thank you for publicizing our study on your web site. As you know, issues surrounding gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing are of critical importance to fly fisherman as contamination of rivers and streams as a result of wastewater processing has been carefully documented by Dan Volz and others. We do want to point out several points in your article that are incorrect. You begin the piece with the phrase: “A 2012 nonscientific, anecdotal, nonpeer-reviewed research paper…” Perhaps you got that impression by reading the Energy in Depth website, but we regret to inform you that you are incorrect. The paper was carefully peer-reviewed by three reviewers that had extensive and insightful comments. This has been the policy of the journal, New Solutions, A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health, since its inception in 1990. As for nonscientific, we would point out that many scientists would consider a systematic review and analysis of cases as scientific. In fact, the medical literature contains an enormous number of case studies that we would be hard pressed to consider “nonscientific.” I found it quite interesting that you criticize our study as “not epidemiological by any stretch.” We wonder where you obtained the idea that this was intended to be an epidemiological study, as we specifically state that it is not. We do note the importance of epidemiological research and also note that no peer reviewed epidemiological studies have been published. We were, of course, aware of the “study” that you cite. Curiously, you do not indicate that it was not peer reviewed and was published by a gas drilling activist and toxicologist in the employ of the industry on an industry-sponsored web site. It would have been difficult to miss, as it was part of an article disparaging the credentials of health providers and scientists (including us) who sent a carefully worded letter to Governor Cuomo citing our concerns about potential health impacts of gas drilling. Nevertheless, when Ms. Mickley and Ms. Blake publish their work in a peer-reviewed journal, we will be most happy to cite it. By the way, the authors of the “study” somehow missed the Center for Disease Control and Prevention study showing that the Dallas/Fort Worth area has the highest rate of invasive breast cancer in Texas and that the rates are rising. This increase in cancer is in the same six counties that have the greatest hydrocarbon gas production. Funny that Ms. Mickley and Ms. Blake seem to have missed that in their “scientific study.”
    Robert Oswald and Michelle Bamberger

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