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Reviews on Environmental Health

Editor-in-Chief: Carpenter, David O. / Sly, Peter

Editorial Board: Brugge, Doug / Edwards, John W. / Field, R.William / Garbisu, Carlos / Hales, Simon / Horowitz, Michal / Lawrence, Roderick / Maibach, H.I. / Shaw, Susan / Tao, Shu / Tchounwou, Paul B.

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CiteScore 2016: 1.95

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Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.885

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Volume 31, Issue 2


Potential hazards of air pollutant emissions from unconventional oil and natural gas operations on the respiratory health of children and infants

Ellen Webb / Jake Hays / Larysa Dyrszka / Brian Rodriguez / Caroline Cox / Katie Huffling / Sheila Bushkin-Bedient
  • Corresponding author
  • Institute for Health and the Environment, 5 University Place Suite A 217, Rensselaer, New York, USA
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Published Online: 2016-05-12 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/reveh-2014-0070


Research on air pollutant emissions associated with unconventional oil and gas (UOG) development has grown significantly in recent years. Empirical investigations have focused on the identification and measurement of oil and gas air pollutants [e.g. volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulate matter (PM), methane] and the influence of UOG on local and regional ambient air quality (e.g. tropospheric ozone). While more studies to better characterize spatial and temporal trends in exposure among children and newborns near UOG sites are needed, existing research suggests that exposure to air pollutants emitted during lifecycle operations can potentially lead to adverse respiratory outcomes in this population. Children are known to be at a greater risk from exposure to air pollutants, which can impair lung function and neurodevelopment, or exacerbate existing conditions, such as asthma, because the respiratory system is particularly vulnerable during development in-utero, the postnatal period, and early childhood. In this article, we review the literature relevant to respiratory risks of UOG on infants and children. Existing epidemiology studies document the impact of air pollutant exposure on children in other contexts and suggest impacts near UOG. Research is sparse on long-term health risks associated with frequent acute exposures – especially in children – hence our interpretation of these findings may be conservative. Many data gaps remain, but existing data support precautionary measures to protect the health of infants and children.

Keywords: benzene; formaldehyde; ozone; particulate matter; silica dust; UOG


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About the article

Corresponding authors: Ellen Webb, MPH, Center for Environmental Health, 42 Broadway, Suite 12-140, New York, NY 10004, USA, E-mail: ; and Sheila Bushkin-Bedient, MD, MPH, Institute for Health and the Environment, 5 University Place Suite A 217, Rensselaer, New York, USA, E-mail:

Received: 2014-10-12

Accepted: 2016-02-08

Published Online: 2016-05-12

Published in Print: 2016-06-01

Citation Information: Reviews on Environmental Health, Volume 31, Issue 2, Pages 225–243, ISSN (Online) 2191-0308, ISSN (Print) 0048-7554, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/reveh-2014-0070.

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