About us


HEI-Energy is a nonprofit affiliate of the Health Effects Institute (HEI), chartered as an independent research organization to provide high-quality and impartial science about potential human exposure and health effects associated with onshore development of oil and natural gas from shale and other unconventional resources (UOGD) in the United States.

HEI-Energy anticipates funding population-level exposure research in multiple U.S. regions that is broadly useful to decision making by regulators, the oil and natural gas industry, environmental organizations, public health experts, communities, and other stakeholders. Once the initial research is completed, HEI-Energy will assess the results to identify the need for additional population-level exposure research or, as feasible and appropriate, health research.

HEI-Energy receives joint funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the oil and gas industry. Other public and private organizations periodically provide support.

With oil and gas resource development projected to continue, alongside growing efforts to switch to renewables and conserve energy, a source of credible science is needed to support decisions about how best to ensure the protection of public health in the oversight and implementation of this development.

For more information, check out the HEI-Energy Implementation Plan and the HEI-Energy Factsheet.


To Accomplish Its Goals, HEI-Energy:

  • Identifies high-priority areas for research
  • Competitively funds and oversees the research projects
  • Provides an independent review of the results
  • Hosts public workshops to discuss timely issues and engage widely with key stakeholders
  • Communicates the results to public and private decision makers

Who Will Benefit:

Those who need high-quality, impartial science to inform decisions about unconventional oil and natural gas development (UOGD) including:

  • Government officials
  • Communities
  • Industry
  • Environmental and public health organizations
  • Other stakeholders 

Technical Scope:

Implementing a research program on the potential for human population exposure and health effects from UOGD.

Phase 1: Reviews of the exposure and health literature in order to:

  • Understand the state of the science about potential exposures and health effects from UOGD 
  • Identify knowledge gaps and research priorities to address them

Phase 2: Based on findings from Phase I, HEI-Energy plans to fund original population-level research designed to answer the following questions:

  • How might people be exposed to chemical or non-chemical agents from UOGD in air, water, and other environmental media at major oil-and natural gas-producing regions across the United States? 
  • How might any potential exposures harm people’s health? As feasible and appropriate based on findings from the population-level exposure studies, HEI-Energy will pursue research to assess potential health effects.

Please check the Funding page for more information. 

Our History:

Prior to launching HEI-Energy, the Health Effects Institute convened the Special Committee on Unconventional Oil and Gas Development to prepare a Strategic Research Agenda to help guide future research about the potential impacts from the onshore development of oil and natural gas from shale and other unconventional resources in the United States. 

To prepare the Research Agenda, the Special Committee evaluated peer-reviewed and grey literature. In addition, it hosted three workshops where various stakeholders and experts shared their expertise and recommendations to better understand the issues and research gaps surrounding UOGD. Information and slide presentations regarding those workshops can be found here

HEI-Energy is a new multi year national research program formed to address a subset of questions from the Research Agenda about potential population exposures and health effects associated with UOGD and to develop a new multi year national research program.