Poverty stricken areas in the Appalachia region have benefitted economically from the natural gas industry’s fracking in Pennsylvania, New York and other states stretching along the East Coast and parts of the Midwest.
However, as MedPage Today reports, some residents have expressed concerns that the drilling has also negatively affected their health. A conference sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health found that although some people have been sickened by exposure to the chemicals used for hydraulic fracking in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, those were job-associated hazards only experienced by rig workers.
The revelations have also put to rest claims in some media coverage regarding the health impacts of Pennsylvania fracking operations. Additionally, the source notes that “some aspects of gas drilling and production release toxins into the environment, but the level of exposure to the public is uncertain and no links to specific instances of disease have been confirmed, and may never be.”
During the conference, Duke University’s Rob Jackson, PhD, cited a study he conducted that determined the methane levels found in northeaster Pennsylvania well water was slightly elevated, but not toxic, according to the news outlet. He added that there had been no data of methane levels before drilling in the Marcellus Shale started, and that no brine or fracking fluids had been discovered in the wells.
While there is still much research to be done on the consequences of hydraulic fracking in Pennsylvania, state and federal legislators are working to determine if local or national regulators should be responsible for making the laws.
WITF reports that current rules can vary across communities, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is working now to create a uniform set of regulations.