Medical Records May Help Solve Concerns over Fracking

Photo of Daniel Horowitz

According to a recent article from NPR, the people in northern Pennsylvania will be participating in a study which could possibly help resolve a national debate about whether natural gas is making people sick. The proposed study will look at the health histories of hundreds of thousands of people who live near the Marcellus Shale. If the study goes forward, it would be the first large-scale, scientifically rigorous assessment of the health effects of gas production. One of the benefits of the study will be the size of the database. Lately there has been a lot of reports by people who say they have gotten sick because of the chemicals associated with gas wells and the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracking. At this point “there doesn’t seem to be a lot of hard data to either support or refute those claims,” according to David Carey the associate chief research officer of Geisinger Health System. Geisinger system wants to use its database of electronic health records to help researchers get definitive answers. The goal of the study is to learn whether natural gas production increases the risk and number of diseases such as cancer.