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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Yale: Study Indicates Shale Drilling Activity Linked to Increased Sexually Transmitted Infections in Texas

Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health have found that rates of two sexually transmitted infections (STIs), gonorrhea and chlamydia, are 15 percent and 10 percent higher, respectively, in Texas counties with high shale drilling activity (“fracking”), compared to counties without any fracking.

No association, however, was observed between drilling and STI rates in Colorado or North Dakota. Also, rates of a third STI, syphilis, were not elevated in any of the states.

The findings are published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

“The findings in Texas add to the evidence of the social impacts in communities hosting the shale gas industry,” said senior author Dr. Nicole Deziel, assistant professor at the Yale School of Public Health. “The associations between shale drilling and chlamydia and gonorrhea in Texas specifically may reflect the higher level of drilling activity and a greater number of densely populated metropolitan areas compared to other regions.”

The extraction of oil and natural gas from unconventional sources such as deep shale rock formations using techniques including horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing has helped position the United States as the leading global producer of both crude oil and natural gas. In 2018, these techniques accounted for ~60 percent of both oil and natural gas production. This expansion has been suggested to increase employment and stimulate the local economy. But others raise concerns about poorer air and water quality, transportation infrastructure, potential earthquakes and increased noise.

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