Professor Robert Oswald, one of the authors behind the study, has claimed his findings mean Britain should not carry out any fracking activity until further studies take place.
The researcher is a leading expert in molecular medicine at Cornell University and based his findings on 24 incidents, reported across six states. In each case livestock was being farmed in the vicinity of a fracking site and there were instances of deaths and illnesses which may be linked to chemicals used when drilling.
Farmers should be ‘very concerned’
Speaking to The Ecologist magazine, Oswald said: “[UK] farmers living in intensively drilled areas should be very concerned about potential exposures of their crops and herds to shale-gas contaminants in the water, air and soil.
“Farmers have a right to know what their families and their herds are being exposed to. The components of fracturing fluids and drilling muds to be used in a well near a farm should be reported.
“We are reporting short-term health changes but no one knows what the long-term health changes may be, especially those caused by low doses of chemicals.”
A spokesperson for the DECC said the organisation was unaware of a connection between fracking and animal welfare but said the issue would be monitored.
Applications to ‘frack’ in UK being considered
The research was released just as planners begin to assess applications to carry out exploratory drilling in Sussex, one of the areas within the UK which supports the most cattle.
Energy firm Cuadrilla set up an exploratory drilling site in Balcombe, West Sussex, but operations suffered several delays due to protest groups. The protests focussed on the potential environmental impact of fracking and did not take into consideration any effect on the food industry.