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Dangerous radiation levels from fracking


Dr David Lowry on the risk of the radioactive gas radon being pumped into homes

Anti-fracking campaigners protesting outside Rotherham council offices in 2019. Anti-fracking campaigners protesting outside Rotherham council offices in 2019. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

I was very interested to read your report (13 October) on recent research by Harvard University scientists on radiation risks from fracking.

I have raised this concern in several letters to the Guardian over the past seven years. Indeed, seven years ago this month, Public Health England said in a review of potential risks that “there is … the potential for radon gas to be present in natural gas extracted from UK shale”.

Eight years ago, Dr Marvin Resnikoff, of Radioactive Waste Management Associates, estimated that radon levels from the Marcellus gas field in the eastern US were up to 70 times the average, and suggested that the radiation from some shale gas deposits was as much as 30 times as high as natural background levels.

Hence, there is undoubtedly a risk of radon gas being pumped into citizens’ homes as part of the shale gas stream. Unless the gas is stored for up to a month to allow the radon’s radioactivity to naturally reduce, this is potentially very dangerous.
Dr David Lowry
Senior international research fellow, Institute for Resource and Security Studies


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