Survey planned on health impacts of Pa. natural gas drilling

    A nonprofit organization will take the first step toward charting the health impact of natural gas drilling in northeastern Pennsylvania.

    The Northeast Regional Cancer Institute plans to survey at least 500 people in 10 counties with questions about a variety of medical conditions. The survey will establish a “baseline” of data for future medical research on the effects of drilling.

    Dr. Samuel Lesko, the institute’s research director, said people have been concerned about water contamination due to chemicals used in natural gas drilling.

    “Those concerns seem to indicate that the community is concerned or worried about this process and that it may have an adverse affect on health,” he said. “We don’t know if it does or not, and we’re trying to gather some data.”

    The Northeast Regional Cancer Institute will also survey those living in counties with no drilling–to see if there’s an immediate difference in reported illnesses.

    Lesko says surveying will begin before September.

    Last month, the state Health secretary said the agency should be evaluating clinical data collected by groups investigating the health impact of drilling. His recommendation is still under review by the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission.

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