(WHTM) – A possible connection between childhood cancer, an increase in asthma, and natural gas activities is headlined in a University of Pittsburgh study released this week, raising questions and concerns.
The study, commissioned by former Governor Tom Wolf and funded by taxpayers, didn’t find that natural gas drilling is causing cancers or asthma because that wasn’t part of the study’s pursuit.
But it did find that kids who live closest to wells were more likely to develop a rare form of childhood cancer. It also found an increased chance of severe asthma reactions in all Pennsylvanians who live nearby.
Several Democratic lawmakers are calling for further study of the industry. Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) wants the Shapiro Administration to focus on it and be transparent in releasing findings.
The Marcellus Share Coalition said in a statement that the health and safety of residents is its top concern and they also questioned the methodology of the study. It insists its industry, which is huge in Pennsylvania, is safe.
The Shapiro Administration had both the Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Protection released statements saying it is looking into the study, which it takes seriously, and is “already taking concrete steps to address the study’s concerns.”
Those concrete steps include beefing up staff at both agencies with a focus on the health risks of natural gas drilling and educating healthcare providers on what to look for.
As for the administration supports legislation buffer zones between well pads, homes, schools, and businesses.
Natural gas drilling is a boon to Pennsylvania’s economy. It’s been around for years and isn’t going anywhere so the studies will no doubt continue into possible health hazards of the industry.