A proposed study of people in northern Pennsylvania could help
resolve a national debate about whether the natural gas boom is making
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.
the study goes forward, it would be the first large-scale,
scientifically rigorous assessment of the health effects of gas
Secret Weapon: A Very Large Database
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.
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.