Fracking and Indoor Radon: Spurious Correlation or Cause for Concern?
43 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2018
Date Written: October 19, 2018
Unconventional oil and gas development (fracking) is controversial in large part because of environmental and health concerns. We consider one concern and revisit the estimated association between fracking and radon in nearby homes. We find that published estimates are sensitive to modest changes in sample definition or model specification. Further exploitation of rich spatial and temporal variation in drilling and radon testing reveals that drilling occurred in areas that had higher pre-existing radon levels. Models accounting for the confounding correlation give a precisely estimated zero effect of wells on radon concentrations in nearby buildings. Our study illustrates the value of revisiting published estimates but also its challenges. The time and effort required to access confidential data from the original provider can be considerable and even increase following a headline-making publication, as occurred in our case.
Keywords: Radon; Fracking; Pennsylvania; Reproduction
JEL Classification: Q50; Q53
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation