Green Buckeye RN

NPR: Medical Records Could Yield Answers On Fracking
May 22, 2012, 10:14 am
Filed under: News

A proposed study of people in northern Pennsylvania could help resolve a national debate about whether the natural gas boom is making people sick.

The study would look at detailed health histories on hundreds of thousands of people who live near the Marcellus Shale, a rock formation in which energy companies have already drilled about 5,000 natural gas wells.

If the study goes forward, it would be the first large-scale, scientifically rigorous assessment of the health effects of gas production.

Secret Weapon: A Very Large Database

In recent years, there have been lots of anecdotal reports about people who say they have been harmed by the chemicals associated with gas wells and the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Science And The Fracking Boom: Missing Answers

Explore key components of the natural gas production process — and the questions scientists are asking.


View Interactive

But “there doesn’t seem to be a lot of hard data to either support or refute those claims,” says David Carey, associate chief research officer of the Geisinger Health System, which provides care to more than 2 million Pennsylvanians.

So the Geisinger system wants to use its huge database of electronic health records to help researchers get definitive answers, Carey says.

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