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Welcome to PSR's Environmental Health Policy Institute, where we ask questions -- then we ask the experts to answer them. Join us as physicians, health professionals, and environmental health experts share their ideas, inspiration, and analysis about toxic chemicals and environmental health policy.


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Fracking Revisited: Feeling the Effects

Posted by Marybeth Dunn, MPH on August 5, 2013

Once again the Environmental Health Policy Institute is focusing on hydraulic fracturing and the associated health and environmental effects.  We looked first at this issue in June 2012, when "fracking" was rapidly increasing across the country.  The need for fuller knowledge and better protections for human wellbeing led us to ask the question: How does hydraulic fracturing – "fracking" – affect the public's health?

The answers to that question are in large measure the reason that Physicians for Social Responsibility adopted a position on fracking.  It states in part that:

PSR supports a precautionary approach that includes a moratorium on the use of hydraulic fracturing until such time as impartial federal agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency develop and implement enforceable rules that provide adequate protection for human health and the environment from fossil fuel extraction processes that use hydraulic fracturing.

A year later, the US continues to see a boom in natural gas drilling and we are no closer to enforceable rules that protect public health and the environment. In fact EPA's national study on hydraulic fracturing, scheduled for release in 2014, will likely be delayed into 2016.

In the meanwhile, more communities in diverse parts of the country are feeling the effects of fracking as they wait for protections to be put in place. This Institute highlights a few of those communities and identifies some promising approaches and scientific resources to help secure policies that will protect health.


Ohio: Frontier for Fracking Medical Emergency Right-to-Know
Melissa English

Fracking Around the Everglades?
Lynna Kaucheck

Hydraulic Fracturing in the Urban Fabric
Angela Johnson Meszaros

Common-Sense Bills Would Close Unwarranted Loopholes for Fracking
Sammy Roth

A Wealth of Scientific Resources on Hydraulic Fracturing
Seth B. Shonkoff, PhD, MPH

Unconventional Natural Gas Development: Exposure Symptoms in Southwestern Pennsylvania
Beth Weinberger, PhD; Raina Rippel; and Celia Lewis, PhD

The views expressed in these essays are those of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Physicians for Social Responsibility.


Bill Wolfgram said ..

Interesting that we have in our area, a dental surgeon who is trying to coerce the town into allowing a frac sand mine and processing plant. He and others of the profession are the investors in the enterprise, and have threatened legal action to further project. In an adjoining township, people are recognizing their physicians as spokemen for the proposed mine and processing facility. Could they be that ill informed, or that greedy?

May 30, 2014
Paul Roden said ..

No one has studied the effects of the radioactive radon in the fracked methane. We can't buy or sell a house without testing and mitigating for radon. Uranium miners died from cancer due to inhalation of radon. People who lived in houses built on landfill from uranium mill tailings or had concrete made with the uranium mill tailings also came down with cancers in higher numbers.

April 24, 2014
Alice D. Rosenfeld said ..

I believe there is enough evidence from scientific sources for PSR to take a stand on fracking. Plz reconsider!

April 24, 2014
Gary Amstutz said ..

This is the information I have been looking for. Peer reviewed science the so called industry experts can not ignore or refute.

January 13, 2014
Jennie Brabec said ..

We keep hearing "jobs, jobs,jobs" but we are never reminded of the fact that we have squandered our natural resources that provide jobs and wealth. we have depleted fisheries, forests, minerals, water, good air and our soil used for farming.

August 10, 2013
John Darovec said ..

Given the dwindling water supply in many areas, blasting water into the ground to free methane is as bad an idea as I can imagine.

August 8, 2013

Comments closed.