A Colorado study found that children and young adults with cancer were more likely to live near an oil and gas well. The study looked at hundreds of cases and discovered that subjects aged 5 to 24 with acute lymphocytic leukemia were over four times as likely to live among the highest concentrations of oil and gas wells.
At this point the findings indicate a correlation between well proximity and certain cancer rates rather than causation between them, and conclude "further study is clearly needed to substantiate both our positive and negative findings."
The team from the University of Colorado compared two main sources of information:
When the geocoded residential addresses of patients were cross-referenced with well locations that were active in the decade preceding initial cancer diagnoses, the analysis revealed a possible link between childhood leukemia and oil and gas industrial activity. "The findings from our registry-based control study indicate that young Coloradans diagnosed with one type of childhood leukemia are more likely to live in the densest areas of oil and gas sites," said lead investigator Lisa McKenzie.
As McKenzie also pointed out, "Over 378,000 Coloradans and millions of Americans currently live within a mile of at least one oil and gas well, and petroleum development continues to expand into residential areas." The study also had some limitations, which McKenzie acknowledged:
"More comprehensive research that can address our study's limitations is needed to understand and explain these results," McKenzie said.