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This week the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project (SPEHP) released the results of the first ever study on the health effects of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

The SPEHP studied 27 cases in Washington County believed to have been affected by nearby drilling activities.

Toxicologist have found symptoms in people who live close to the wells or processing stations.

In what is considered a surprise, the study revealed that air pollution and not water pollution is the bigger threat.

The study also found that  processing stations have greater risk of environmental damage than drilling sites.

Processing stations handle gas from hundreds of wells, concentrating their effects.

However, there’s a flip side to fracking and its effect on health. Michael Greenstone of MIT said, “There’s a strong case that people in the U.S. are already leading longer lives as a consequence of the fracking revolution.”

Proponents believe that switching to natural gas from coal, made economically possible by fracking, has saved and improved lives by reducing exposure to soot, nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide.