More physicians concerned about the health risks of living near natural gas production operations

The drumbeat from health experts continues to grow louder. More and more medical professionals are speaking out about their concerns and the many unknowns regarding health risks to individuals who live near natural gas production operations. The latest: 

  • The Dean of West Virginia University's School of Public Health recently stated that the impact of hydraulic fracturing on the public's health needs to be studied.
  • The Wheeling-Ohio County health officer, also in West Virginia, stated that they are receiving complaints related to contaminated water and air.
  • In New York State, hundreds of health professionals recently sent a letter to the Governor, calling on him to conduct a health impact assessment (HIA) of the public health impacts of gas exploration and production.
  • Bernard Goldstein, professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Public Health, said he supports the New York group’s demands because, “To me, the idea of rushing ahead basically refutes all we’ve learned in environmental health science over the last 40 years.”
  • In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Corbett has proposed funding for the state's Department of Health for: collecting and disseminating health information; health care and citizen provider outreach and education; investigating health complaints; and other activities associated with shale development. I think it is particularly significant that Governor Corbett has acknowledged there are legitimate health concerns that warrant state action, given that he is seen as an industry ally. Concerns about the health and environmental impacts or oil and gas production increasingly cross party and ideological lines. It's not just Democrats or liberals who worry about these issues when they learn the facts. As one former small town mayor from Texas said: “I’m not opposed to natural gas drilling, I’m not some wacko environmentalist … I am against being poisoned, though, and I’m certainly against my children being poisoned.”