Science And The Fracking Boom: Missing Answers

A natural gas boom is underway in the U.S., with more than 200,000 wells drilled in the last decade.

In states like Colorado, Texas, and Pennsylvania, residents who live close to the natural gas bonanza have the same questions: What kind of pollutants is the industrial activity putting into their water and air, and are those pollutants making them sick?

NPR's science desk & KUNC explore why there aren't solid answers to those questions yet...

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4:23pm

Mon August 20, 2012
Environment

Garfield County Teams Up with CSU to Study Natural Gas Emissions

KUNC File Photo

CSU researchers met with Garfield County commissioners today to discuss plans for a $1.76 million, three-year research project examining emissions connected to the practice of hydraulic fracturing.

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3:55pm

Thu May 17, 2012
The Fracking Boom: Missing Answers

Pennsylvania Doctors Worry Over Fracking 'Gag Rule'

Originally published on Thu May 17, 2012 5:30 pm

Plastic surgeon Amy Pare says it's important for doctors to know what kind of substances patients she's treating might have been exposed to.
Susan Philips WHYY

From WHYY

A new law in Pennsylvania has doctors nervous.

The law grants physicians access to information about trade-secret chemicals used in natural gas drilling. Doctors say they need to know what's in those formulas in order to treat patients who may have been exposed to the chemicals.

But the new law also says that doctors can't tell anyone else — not even other doctors — what's in those formulas. It's being called the "doctor gag rule."

'I Don't Know If It's Due To Exposure'

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1:24am

Thu May 17, 2012
The Fracking Boom: Missing Answers

Fracking's Methane Trail: A Detective Story

Originally published on Fri May 18, 2012 7:36 am

A natural gas drilling rig's lights shimmer in the evening light near Silt, Colo.
David Gilkey NPR

Gaby Petron didn't set out to challenge industry and government assumptions about how much pollution comes from natural gas drilling.

She was just doing what she always does as an air pollution data sleuth for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"I look for a story in the data," says Petron. "You give me a data set, I will study it back and forth and left and right for weeks, and I will find something to tell about it."

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12:41pm

Wed May 16, 2012
The Fracking Boom: Missing Answers

Town's Effort To Link Fracking And Illness Falls Short

Originally published on Thu May 24, 2012 9:35 am

NPR

Quite a few of the 225 people who live in Dish, Texas, think the nation's natural gas boom is making them sick.

They blame the chemicals used in gas production for health problems ranging from nosebleeds to cancer.

And the mayor of Dish, Bill Sciscoe, has a message for people who live in places where gas drilling is about to start: "Run. Run as fast as you can. Grab up your family and your belongings, and get out."

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1:04am

Wed May 16, 2012
The Fracking Boom: Missing Answers

Medical Records Could Yield Answers On Fracking

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 8:50 am

William Reigle has fibrosis, a disease that may be aggravated by nearby fracking. He's one of more than 2 million Pennsylvanians who get their health care from Geisinger Health System. The system wants to use its extensive database of patient records to study the health impact of natural gas production.
Maggie Starbard NPR

A proposed study of people in northern Pennsylvania could help resolve a national debate about whether the natural gas boom is making people sick.

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.

If the study goes forward, it would be the first large-scale, scientifically rigorous assessment of the health effects of gas production.

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