A University of Rochester Medical Center researcher has won a $1.5 million grant to study health effects of fracking.
Department of Public Health Sciences assistant professor Elaine Hill won the National Institutes of Health grant to launch a multi-front investigation of the controversial gas-and-oil drilling method.
Properly called hydraulic fracturing, the method involves the injection of highly pressurized chemical-laced water into drilling sites to release gas or oil trapped in rocks.
Proponents claim the method is a safe, cost-effective way to extract resources that would otherwise not be. Opponents see fracking as more likely to pollute local water supplies than not.
After delaying a decision for some two years, New York banned fracking in a decision that was hailed by environmentalists but booed by Southern Tier landowners hoping to see windfall profits from selling drilling rights.
Hill plans to investigate what adverse health effects fracking might have on people living near wells as weigh the potential dangers the method poses against the economic boons it might bring.
She won the NIH grant under the agency’s Director’s Early Independence Award, a program meant to fund high-risk, high-reward projects and help kick start young scientists’ careers.
With the award, Hill said, “I will be able to study a topic in desperate need of scientific examination.”
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