PSE Energy Quarterly is the newsletter of Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy, a nonprofit research institute dedicated to supplying evidence-based scientific and technical information on the public health, environmental, and climate dimensions of energy production and use.


17.6M Americans live close to active oil and gas (and fracking) wells

An estimated 17.6 million Americans live within one mile of an active oil or gas well, according to a study published August 23 in Environmental Health Perspectives, the journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The study, led by PSE Energy and Environment Program Associate Eliza Czolowski, is the first peer-reviewed nationwide measurement of the number of people living in close proximity to actively producing oil and gas wells.

Studies have found that active oil and gas production degrades air and water quality, contaminates soil, and elevates exposures to noise and light pollution. When people live within a mile of these operations, they are at higher risk for numerous medical issues, according to separate peer-reviewed studies.

infographic of tstates with most people living near active oil and gas wells, by population and percentage

But the few published peer-reviewed studies that quantify populations living in proximity to these operations do not tie pollution emissions to specific types of oil and gas development operations.

“Our study was specifically designed to determine how many Americans have increased health risks from potential exposure to pollutants emitted from oil and gas development,” said Czolowski.

Read the full news story.
Read Eliza’s Czolowski’s related blog post.
Read the study in Environmental Health Perspectives.
Check out the media coverage.


  • An irrigation pivot watering a field of turnips.


  • fracking operation
  • building site
  • Coal operations
  • Two men and a dog walk through an almond orchard.

This issue of PSE Energy Quarterly was published October 3, 2017, in Oakland, California.
Copyright PSE Healthy Energy. All rights reserved.