Yale and MIT Researchers Studying Water Quality and Oil and Gas Drilling in Ohio’s Appalachian Basin

Researchers from the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH), Yale Forestry & Environmental Studies and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will be testing drinking water samples and conducting interviews from approximately 200 households in Belmont and Monroe Counties in Ohio this summer.

The effort is part of the WATer and Energy Resources Study (“WATER Study”) to investigate how oil and gas activities may influence groundwater chemistry and human health in the Appalachian Basin.

Oil and gas extraction has been particularly intensive in Belmont and Monroe Counties, where more than 1,000 horizontal wells have been drilled in the last decade. This surge in energy production has helped make oil and gas more abundant and less expensive, but deployment of new technologies, including high-volume hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), has been accompanied by concerns about environmental contamination and health problems in host communities. 

We are conducting the largest water quality study in the region to date to address these information gaps.

Nicole Deziel

 “Though fossil-fuel development involving hydraulic fracturing has expanded rapidly in Eastern Ohio, evidence on whether the practice affects water quality in nearby communities remains limited,” said YSPH Assistant Professor Nicole Deziel, one of the study’s lead investigators. “We are conducting the largest water quality study in the region to date to address these information gaps.”

The Ohio WATER Study started at the end of May and will continue through mid-August. As part of the study, residents will receive a report with their individual water testing results. 

“Providing measurements of their home water quality is one way to address community concerns about the unknown,” says Deziel.

To learn more about the study or if you are a Belmont or Monroe County residents interested in participating, contact the research team at 203-737-6229. There is no cost to join the study and participants receive their water test results if they choose and a $20 debit card.

This article was submitted by Sayuri Gavaskar on June 20, 2019.

Related People

Nicole Deziel

Assistant Professor of Epidemiology (Environmental Health Sciences) and Assistant Professor in Forestry and Environmental Studies