Medical experts continue to raise alarms about the risks of natural gas drilling to human health

I've blogged before about how no one really knows what the health impacts are from living near oil and gas exploration and production sites, but many families across the country are reporting severe health symptoms that they or their physicians believe are linked to nearby dirty oil and gas production operations.

In a recent column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dr. Bernard Goldstein, former Dean of the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health, writes that he is in favor of natural gas production for several reasons. But he also calls for a pause in natural gas drilling until a comprehensive study of the impact of natural gas activities on human health has been completed, industry has adopted practices that lessen the extent of environmental and human impact, the U.S. EPA has completed its research into the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water sources, and stronger protections are in place. Dr. Goldstein writes that some drilling companies have more than twice as many environmental violations than drilling sites.

Earlier this year, the Texas Medical Association passed a resolution calling for increased protections for drinking water and air quality that are at risk from nearby natural gas production operations, and for increased pipeline safety protections. Among other things, the TMA noted that wellhead air emissions are currently exempt from permitting requirements.

The Medical Society of the State of New York passed a resolution in 2010 in support of a moratorium on natural gas extraction using high volume hydraulic fracturing in New York State until valid information is available to evaluate the process for its potential effects on human health and the environment. The medical societies in ten New York counties passed similar resolutions. In the simple words of the Otsego County Medical Society: "Clearly, much more study needs to be done before we can be certain that this process can be done safely."