A new Harvard study finds that there are significantly elevated levels of airborne radioactive particles up to 31 miles downwind of U.S. fracking sites.
Using 16 years of data from 157 federal radiation monitoring stations, researchers found that sites with 100 fracking wells within 12 miles upwind had an average of about 7% more radiation in the air.
The highest contamination was near the Marcellus and Utica shale fields in Ohio and Pennsylvania, where radioactivity was 40% higher than normal.
While conventional oil and gas drilling doesn’t result in much impact on underground rocks that contain uranium isotopes, hydraulic fracturing blasts through shale and other layers containing them. Scientists say the resulting radioactive particles are carried downwind.