UNITED STATES NEWS

A study of fracking’s links to health issues will be released by Pennsylvania researchers

Aug 15, 2023, 10:38 AM

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Researchers in heavily drilled Pennsylvania were preparing Tuesday to release findings from taxpayer-financed studies on possible links between the natural gas industry and pediatric cancer, asthma and poor birth outcomes.

The four-year, $2.5 million project is wrapping up after the state’s former governor, Democrat Tom Wolf, in 2019 agreed to commission it under pressure from the families of pediatric cancer patients who live amid the nation’s most prolific natural gas reservoir in western Pennsylvania.

A number of states have strengthened their laws around fracking and waste disposal over the past decade. However, researchers have repeatedly said that regulatory shortcomings leave an incomplete picture of the amount of toxic substances the industry emits into the air, injects into the ground or produces as waste.

The Pennsylvania-funded study involves University of Pittsburgh researchers and comes on the heels of other major studies that are finding higher rates of cancer, asthma, low birth weights and other afflictions among people who live near drilling fields around the country.

Tuesday evening’s public meeting to discuss the findings will be hosted by University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health and the state Department of Health, on the campus of state-owned Pennsylvania Western University.

Edward Ketyer, a retired pediatrician who is president of the Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania and who sat on an advisory board for the study, said he expects that the studies will be consistent with previous research showing that the “closer you live to fracking activity, the increased risk you have a being sick with a variety of illnesses.”

“We’ve got enough evidence that associates, that links, that correlates fracking activity to poor health — and the biggest question is why is anybody surprised about that?” Ketyer said.

The gas industry has maintained that fracking is safe and industry groups in Pennsylvania supported Wolf’s initiative to get to the bottom of the pediatric cancer cases.

The study’s findings are emerging under new Gov. Josh Shapiro, also a Democrat, whose administration has yet to publish or otherwise release the researchers’ reports since taking office earlier this year.

The advent of high-volume hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling miles deep in the ground over the past two decades transformed the United States into a worldwide oil and gas superpower.

But it also brought a torrent of complaints about water and air pollution, and diseases and ailments, as it encroached on exurbs and suburbs in states like Texas, Colorado and Pennsylvania.

One of the most enduring images of gas drilling pollution was residents in a northern Pennsylvania community lighting their tap water on fire. A state grand jury investigation later found that a company had failed to fix its faulty gas wells, which leaked flammable methane into residential water supplies in surrounding communities.

The Pennsylvania-funded study comes on the heels of other major studies, such as one published last year by Harvard University researchers who said they found evidence of higher death rates in more than 15 million Medicare beneficiaries who lived downwind of oil and gas wells in major exploration regions around the U.S.

Yale University researchers last year said they found that children in Pennsylvania living near an oil or gas wellsite had up to two to three times the odds of developing acute lymphocytic leukemia, a common type of cancer in children.

Establishing the cause of health problems is challenging, however. It can be difficult or impossible for researchers to determine exactly how much exposure people had to pollutants in air or water, and scientists often cannot rule out other contributing factors.

Because of that, environmental health researchers try to gather enough data to gauge risk and draw conclusions.

“The idea is we’re collecting evidence in some kind of a systematic way and we’re looking at that evidence and judging whether causation is a reasonable interpretation to make,” said David Ozonoff, a retired environmental health professor who chaired the Department of Environmental Health at Boston University.

Another key piece of evidence is to identify an activity that exposes people to a chemical as part of assembling evidence that fits together in narrative, Ozonoff said.

___

Follow Marc Levy on Twitter: http://twitter.com/timelywriter

United States News

A calendar shows the month of February, including leap day, Feb. 29, on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024, in S...

Associated Press

Have a look at the whos, whats and whens of leap year through time

NEW YORK (AP) — Leap year. It’s a delight for the calendar and math nerds among us. So how did it all begin and why? Have a look at some of the numbers, history and lore behind the (not quite) every four year phenom that adds a 29th day to February. BY THE NUMBERS The […]

2 hours ago

FILE - Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim greets supporters outside Central High School on the day of the r...

Associated Press

Fatigue and frustration as final do-over mayoral election looms in Connecticut’s largest city

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — It’s been nearly four months since a judge tossed out the results of a Democratic mayoral primary in Connecticut’s largest city due to allegations of ballot stuffing, sending voters repeatedly back to the polls and thrusting Bridgeport into an unflattering national spotlight. Many frustrated local voters say they just want it […]

2 hours ago

Homes are seen on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in the southwest Portland, Ore., suburb of Beaverton. Th...

Associated Press

A housing shortage is testing Oregon’s pioneering land use law. Lawmakers are poised to tweak it

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A severe lack of affordable housing has prompted Oregon lawmakers to consider chipping away at a 1970s law that made the state a national leader in leveraging land use policy to prevent suburban sprawl and conserve nature and agriculture. The so-called urban growth boundary, a sacred cow of Oregon’s liberal politics, […]

2 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump hugs and kisses the American flag a...

Associated Press

Trump calls himself a ‘proud political dissident’ in CPAC speech

In a CPAC speech, Trump painted an apocalyptic vision of the future if President Joe Biden wins again as the two prepare for a rematch.

6 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gestures to the audience after spea...

Associated Press

Donald Trump wins South Carolina GOP primary, beating Nikki Haley in her home state

Trump has now swept every contest that counted for Republican delegates, with wins already in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Why AP called South Carolina for Trump: Race call explained

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Associated Press declared Donald Trump the winner of the South Carolina primary as soon as polls closed on Saturday. The race call was based on a comprehensive survey of South Carolina Republican primary voters that showed him defeating Nikki Haley by wide margins in her home state. Declaring a winner as […]

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

A study of fracking’s links to health issues will be released by Pennsylvania researchers