Corrected Data from Retracted UC Study Show Emission Levels Well Below EPA Standards
One of the authors of a recently retracted University of Cincinnati air quality study that yielded headlines such as Newsweek’s “Fracking Could Increase Risk of Cancer, New Study Finds” has admitted that the corrected study shows absolutely no evidence to support such alarmist headlines.
Retractionwatch.com confirmed Friday what EID suspected when it broke news of the retraction earlier this week — corrected data from the study shows that the levels of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) found near fracking sites is below the levels the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says would increase risk of cancer:
“… the conclusions have been reversed — the original paper stated pollution levels exceeded limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for lifetime cancer risk, but the corrected data set the risks below EPA levels.”
Study co-author Kim Anderson of Oregon State University was quoted in a press release accompanying the original study as saying the results showed, “Air pollution from fracking operations may pose an under-recognized health hazard to people living near them.” But Anderson was forced to concede to Retractionwatch.com that the corrected study does not support the researchers’ claims, which were widely reported as fact last May. She provided the following excerpt from the corrected study to Retractionwatch.com:
“Closest to active wells, the [excess lifetime cancer] risk estimated for maximum residential exposure was 0.04 in a million, which is below the U.S. EPA’s acceptable risk level,” Anderson told Retractionwatch.com. “Overall, risk estimates decreased 30% when comparing results from samplers closest to active wells to those farthest. This work suggests that natural gas extraction is contributing PAHs to the air, below levels that would increase cancer risk.”
Anderson told Retractionwatch.com the miscalculation of PAH levels was due to an “honest spreadsheet error” and that the corrected version of the study will be published in Environmental Science and Technology “in the next few days.”
We appreciate the authors being forthcoming about their mistake and hope they will display the same urgency to publish the corrected version of the study as they did the original version, which was published just three months after it was completed.
UC has shown no such urgency, after all, in publishing a nearly year-old study that found no water contamination from hydraulic fracturing in a scientific journal, despite scrutiny, media attention, and numerous calls from groups and elected officials to do so.