Exploring perceptions of fracking and environmental health in a 3-county population in South Texas

Kristina W. Whitworth, Elisabeth De LaRosa, Taylor Mackay, Ashley Hernandez, Mary K. Martin, Jaime Lopez, Monty Small, Paula Winkler, Melissa A. Valerio


Introduction: The past decade in the United States has been marked by an unprecedented expansion of unconventional oil and gas drilling, including hydraulic fracturing (i.e., fracking). Concerns have arisen regarding potential health and environmental risks associated with the use of the fracking process. The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine community perceptions, concerns, and knowledge of environmental health issues related to fracking in three Texas counties near one of the most active shale plays in South Texas, the Eagle Ford Shale.

Methods: A convenience sample of 153 adults over the age of 18 years in three rural South Texas counties completed a 46-question survey. Demographic information, perceptions of environmental health risks, and knowledge of potential environmental health effects related to fracking were obtained. A validated health literacy measure was also used to assess participants’ health literacy.

Results: Participants were predominantly female (61%), white (75%), and Hispanic (62%). A majority owned land (53.6%) and had lived in their respective county for over 21 years (54%). Only 32% percent of participants had marginal or inadequate health literacy though a larger percentage of participants had limited knowledge of potential environmental health risks related to fracking.

Conclusions: Approximately one third of participants had less than adequate health literacy as measured by the BRIEF. A high percentage of the population demonstrated limited knowledge regarding the potential environmental health impacts of fracking, suggesting limited environmental health literacy. Findings point to the need for environmental health specific assessments and focused environmental health promotion strategies.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jer.v3n1p61


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Journal of Epidemiological Research

ISSN 2377-9306(Print)  ISSN 2377-9330(Online)

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