Children and Elderly at Risk from “Dangerous and Close” Fracking

Media Contacts

Environment Colorado

Denver, CO. –More than 54,567 kindergarten through twelfth grade children in Colorado attend schools within one mile of a fracked oil or gas well, putting them at increased risk of health impacts from dangerous chemicals and air pollution.

The finding comes from a new study by Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center that exposes the proximity of fracking near schools, hospitals, day care centers and nursing homes, risking the health of our children and other vulnerable populations. 

“As a mom and the mayor of a city that borders extensive oil and gas development, I am concerned about the significant health impacts oil and gas forming ozone pollution have on my constituents and my family.  As oil and gas extraction continues to expand near our playgrounds, schools and neighborhoods, we need federal regulations that prioritize our health, public safety and natural resources.” Said Christine Berg, Colorado Field Organizer, Moms Clean Air Force.

Using data provided by the oil and gas industry and state regulators, Dangerous and Close – Fracking Puts the Nation’s Most Vulnerable People at Risk, found that in Colorado:

  • 302 child care facilities, 110 schools, 4 nursing care providers and 3 hospitals are within a one-mile radius of fracked wells. 
  • More than 54,567 kindergarten through twelfth grade children attend school within one mile of a fracked well. 
  • The highest percentage of children attending school close to fracked wells is in West Virginia, where 8 percent of children spend their school days within one mile of a fracked well. 
  • Texas has the largest number of children attending school close to a well, with 437,000 kindergarten through twelfth grade students attending public or private school within one mile of a fracked well. 

The report included data from nine states total including Arkansas, California, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia.

Fracking creates a range of threats to our health, including creating toxic air pollution that can reduce lung function even among healthy people, trigger asthma attacks, and has been linked to premature death. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to fracking’s health risks. Children’s immune systems are more susceptible to damage from toxic chemicals while older adults have weaker immune systems and more difficulty breaking down toxics chemicals in the body.

Studies show that the closer you are to fracking, the more susceptible you are to suffering negative health effects. In Colorado, residents living within one-half mile of fracked wells were exposed to pollutants that increased their risk of illness. Researchers at University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University found that in Pennsylvania hospitalizations rates increase near fracking sites.

Given the scale and severity of fracking’s impacts, fracking should be prohibited wherever possible and existing wells should be shut down beginning with those near institutions that serve our most vulnerable populations. 

To better protect communities already on the frontlines of drilling, stricter regulations should be adopted and federal fracking loopholes should be closed to hold the oil and gas industry to the same standards as other industry. Currently, oil and gas companies are exempt from key provisions in the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

“Our children’s health and safety should be non-negotiable,” said Jeanne Bassett, Senior Associate with Environment Colorado. “Ultimately, the only solution to this toxic health threat is to ban fracking entirely and move toward 100% renewable energy as swiftly as possible.”


Environment Colorado Research and Policy Center is a statewide organization bringing together people for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. We investigate problems, craft solutions,  and educate the public and decision-makers.