Industry Called Upon to Set Up Foundation to Conducted Needed, Independent Research
WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 9, 2012 – Leading U.S. medical experts urged today that the rapid expansion of unconventional natural gas drilling (known as “hydro fracking”) for natural gas extraction be paused so that necessary research can be done into the potential harmful effects on human health.
The comments were made in statements delivered today at a conference sponsored by the nonprofit Physicians Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy (PSE) and the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment (MACCHE).
The major PSE/MACCHE event brought together public health experts, physicians, epidemiologists and other experts from various research areas to address the public health aspects of unconventional natural gas drilling.
In opening remarks, Adam Law, MD, Weill Cornell Medical College, and the founding board member of Physicians Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, said: “When it comes to hydro fracking, our guiding principle for public policy should be the same as the one used by physicians: ‘First, do no harm.’ There is a need for scientific and epidemiologic information on the health impacts of fracking. Frankly, no one should be unleashing even more fracking before we have the scientific facts. There are health care needs in various gas drilling communities and these must be met. The reality is that industry has not done nearly enough to finance the needed research effort.”
Another speaker, Jerome Paulson, MD, George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences, and the director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment, commented: “There are a lot of questions related to the human health and ecological impacts of this process of unconventional gas extraction that need to be answered. The answers to the questions about the human and ecosystem health impacts here will only come from scientific research. We are here today to explore what research needs to be done and what protocols and processes should be implemented … I recommend that the drilling and energy companies fund an independent foundation that would support research related to human and ecosystem health… I also recommend that the drilling and extraction companies reveal the full description of all chemicals used and the quantities of those chemicals used to the public.”
The conference – titled “Epidemiologic and Public Health Considerations of Shale Gas Production: The Missing Link” – took place at the Waterview Conference Center, Arlington, VA.
The January 9th conference arose from a suggestion made by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to investigate the methodological aspects of creating long- and short-term epidemiological studies of the health implications of hydrofracking. The January 2012 conference will address the complex methodological issues associated with the needed research, helping to coordinate studies that address industrial, geologic, toxicological, epidemiological, and health care factors.
Conference highlights included the following:
* “Chemicals and Pathways of Exposure Associated with the Development of Shale Gas Plays”;
* “Evaluating Potential Health Impacts of Natural Gas Development in a Residential Community using Health Impact Assessment”; and
* “State of the Law: Federal, State and Local Regulation of Hydrofracturing.”
The main keynote speaker was Dr. Vikas Kapil, DO, MPH, chief medical officer, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. In the afternoon, three technical workshops addressed the following topics: “Issues in Epidemiologic Methodology”; “Issues in Surveying Environmental and Human Health Impacts”; and “Issues in Clinical Services & Treatment”.
Full conference details are available online at http://psehealthyenergy.org/site/view/966.
The nonprofit Physicians Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy (PSE) is dedicated to supplying vetted, evidence-based, scientific information and resources on unconventional gas development (high-volume hydrofracking) and other novel energy production methods. PSE’s mission is to bring transparency to the important public policy issues surrounding such methods, helping to level the playing field for citizens, advocacy groups, media, policy-makers and politicians. For more information, go to http://www.PSEHealthyEnergy.org on the Web.
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