EARTHWORKS | Public health and gas development

EARTHWORKS | Public health and gas development.

Public health and gas development


Where oil and gas development goes, health problems often follow.

Yet industry representatives and policymakers seeking to expand drilling often dismiss claims of health impacts as “personal anecdotes” and isolated incidents.

The primary reasons that public health risks posed by increasing gas development can be disputed:

  • A lack of established science. Widespread scientific investigation has only recently begun to investigate the relationship between gas development and public health impacts.
  • State governments, which are largely responsible for protecting the public from irresponsible oil and gas development, have until recently refused to consider the issue.
  • Even as they have become widespread, individual reports of health problems in the gas patch have been continually dismissed as anecdotal by industry and government.

To investigate the connection, between August 2011 and July 2012 Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project (OGAP) researched the extent, types, and possible causes of health symptoms experienced by people living in the gas patches of Pennsylvania.

The main conclusions of the project — Gas Patch Roulette: How Shale Gas Development Risks Public Health in Pennsylvania:

  1. Contaminants associated with oil and gas development are present in air and water in many communities where development is occurring.
  2. Many residents have developed health symptoms that they did not have before—indicating the strong possibility that they are occurring because of gas development.
  3. By permitting widespread gas development without fully understanding its impacts to public health—and using that lack of knowledge to justify regulatory inaction—Pennsylvania and other states are risking the public’s health.

Gas Patch Roulette documents:

For more information:

The health survey form through which residents reported health symptoms.

Additional information and data tables to support some of the analysis and charts found in the report.

Tagged with: toxics, regulation, public health, pennsylvania, marcellus shale, health and toxics, gas patch roulette

Gas Patch Roulette: Differences in symptoms based on respondents with air and water tests


Publication »


Gas Patch Roulette: Summary Report

How Shale Gas Development Risks Public Health in Pennsy

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