Studies look into relationship between fracking and the rise in nearby childhood cancer cases

Written by on March 8, 2021

Studies look into the relationship between fracking and the rise in nearby childhood cancer cases

Reid Frazier / WITF / StateImpact Pennsylvania

March 8, 2021

Range Resources Appalachia, LLC’s Carns Tank Pad in Smith Township, Washington County. Photo | Courtesy of Marcellus Air via WITF

Environmental and public health advocates want the Pennsylvania Department of Health to expand the scope of its study of fracking and health effects. The state is looking into whether living near fracking correlates to a rise in childhood cancer, asthma and poor birth outcomes.

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Groups representing the families of childhood cancer patients are asking the Department of Health to include the handling of fracking waste in a pair of studies it’s funding. 

So far the studies are designed to examine activities at oil and gas well pads and compressor stations. But Alison Steele, executive director of the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, said they should also look at facilities that handle fracking waste, which can contain high levels of radioactive materials. 

“We’re talking about waste from fracking wells, from unconventional shale gas wells, either in liquid form or in solid form that is frequently transported by truck and delivered too frequently to landfills,” Steele says. 

The oil and gas industry says its operations are safe.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are conducting the studies, which are expected to take three years. 

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