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Quality of Life and Stress Effects in Communities with Oil and Gas Development

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Technological advances in directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing have resulted in a production boom of US petroleum reserves. It is increasingly common for oil and natural gas development to encroach on populated areas, exposing residents to a range of chemical, physical and psychosocial stressors that impact health and QOL. Little substantive research exists on this topic. We seek time-sensitive funding because a recent municipal moratorium on oil and gas drilling in Fort Collins, Colorado has opened a window of opportunity to compare changes in quality of life and subclinical biomarkers of health effects in this unaffected community to those in nearby Greeley, CO, where there is no moratorium and ongoing oil and gas development. Using a longitudinal design we will test the hypothesis that a population living in close proximity to oil and gas development experiences decreased quality of life and measureable changes in subclinical biomarkers of stress, cardiovascular health, and inflammation compared to a population without oil and gas development. We will measure changes in quality of life before, during and after oil and gas development in nearly 400 residents from both locations using a validated questionnaire. We will also collect repeat measures of subclinical biomarkers of effect for 30 subjects in each community. These subclinical biomarkers were chosen based on an analysis of biologic pathways that link psychosocial stress and air pollution to changes in cardiovascular function, systematic inflammation, and subsequent adverse health outcomes. By collecting baseline measurements and prospectively following these two populations, this work will develop data, tools and community networks needed to design and facilitate subsequent prospective studies that will provide insight on the health effects associated with this rapidly expanding industry.
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