CIEH welcomes PHE’s report on health impact of ‘fracking’

Publication Date: 26th June 2014

Subject: Public health


The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) today welcomes the publication of Public Health England (PHE)’s report on the potential public health impacts of exposure to chemical and radioactive pollutants as a result of shale gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

CIEH Chief Executive, Graham Jukes, OBE, said: ‘The CIEH does not object to shale gas extraction provided the impacts and remediation of those impacts are fully understood and taken into account and this report is an important contribution to the information base surrounding this process.’

‘It is important to note that the report explicitly does not look at the sustainable use of water resources or local environment issues such as noise and odours, nor the socio economic benefits or impacts of extraction to local communities.  Nevertheless, the key message from the report is that on the currently available evidence the potential risks to public health from the emissions associated with shale gas extraction will be low if the operations are properly run within a framework of robust environmental regulation.’

That is an important proviso, however, and the CIEH has consistently made the case for a full environmental impact assessment to be carried out on all shale gas extraction proposals before permission to drill is given.  

Mr Jukes continued: ‘In the enthusiasm to exploit new sources of energy we must ensure that there are no unacceptable adverse impacts on the environment or on the health of people in the communities surrounding extraction sites. Despite central government encouragement for the process, local authorities should resist allowing shale gas extraction in their areas until they are satisfied on that.’

Mandatory environmental impact assessment which the CIEH would support is not a recommendation in the report but is alluded to in PHE’s call for adequate risk assessment, baseline and continuous environmental monitoring during the extraction process, and the need to assess the broader socio-economic impacts which reflect the longer term precautionary principle.

Mr Jukes concluded: ‘The CIEH position is not opposed to shale gas extraction if the impacts and remediation of those impacts are fully understood and taken into account. We will shortly be publishing a report which reviews current evidence across a number of aspects associated with this process including environmental and public health aspects and socio economic considerations.’


Notes to editors: 

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  • Spokespeople are available for comment

About the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH): 

  • The CIEH is the professional voice for environmental health representing over 10,000 members working in the public, private and non-profit sectors. It ensures the highest standards of professional competence in its members, in the belief that through environmental health action people's health can be improved
  • The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) is a leading provider of regulated qualifications in health and safety, food safety, environmental management, fire safety and first aid and operates in over 50 countries
  • Over 10 million people around the world from the UK to the USA and the Middle East hold a CIEH qualification
  • The CIEH’s clients range from small businesses to multinational enterprises like the InterContinental Hotels Group. We work with governmental bodies in Hong Kong as well as international agencies like the United Nations
  • The CIEH’s 60 qualification training programmes are delivered through a network of over 10,000 registered trainers. The training is developed for the varied skill levels within organisations. They cater to different learning styles and preferences through a series of flexible structures. CIEH qualifications are valued and recognised throughout the world
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