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Pennsylvania Medical Society Calls for a Moratorium on New Fracking, State-funded Independent Health Registry

Public health experts applaud the resolution

October 26, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania October 26, 2016

Members of the Protect Pennsylvania: Health Professionals for a Livable Future applaud the Pennsylvania Medical Society for their two-part resolution approved on Sunday, October 23, 2016, which calls for a moratorium on new shale gas extraction using high volume hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania, and urges the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to fund an independent health registry and to commission research studies on the health effects of shale gas development (“fracking”). The physicians of Pennsylvania care first and foremost about the health of the community and believe that when an activity raises potential harm to human health, precautionary measures should be taken until cause and effect relationships are fully established.   Dr. Walter Tsou, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility/Philadelphia, and the author of the resolution expressed his appreciation of the PA Medical Society.  “Three years ago, the Medical Society turned down a similar resolution calling for a moratorium on gas drilling.  However, in the last three years growing evidence has shown its increasing deleterious effects outweighs any economic benefit.”

So far, the Pennsylvania legislature has failed to create a health registry, collect statewide, comprehensive data, or thoroughly study the health effects of fracking, essentially obstructing the scientific study of this industry.  Many communities who were financial beneficiaries of the shale gas extraction “boom” are now experiencing the environmental damage and human health consequences created by hydraulic fracturing even as shale gas drilling has slowed considerably due to lower prices.

Pennsylvania has invested heavily into shale gas drilling, but in-state health studies have demonstrated worsening asthma, premature births, neurological, mental symptoms, and other adverse effects.  After careful consideration and using the precautionary principle, the states of New York, Maryland, and Vermont have learned from Pennsylvania and other studies and have enacted bans or moratoriums on unconventional shale gas drilling or fracking.

Ruth McDermott-Levy, PhD, MPH, MSN, RN, Associate Professor and Director, Center for Global & Public Health at Villanova University and member of the Protect Pennsylvania: Health Professionals for a Livable Future says, “Protect Pennsylvania is pleased with the resolution & supports the PA Medical Society in calling for a health registry to monitor the health impacts of unconventional natural gas development in Pennsylvania. The health of Pennsylvanians should be the priority when considering gas development in the Commonwealth.”

About - PROTECT PENNSYLVANIA: HEALTH PROFESSIONALS FOR A LIVABLE FUTURE (www.protectpennsylvania.org)

Protect Pennsylvania: Health Professionals for a Livable Future is a coalition of doctors, nurses, health researchers, health students, and others concerned about the impact of fracking and fracking infrastructure on the health of Pennsylvanians. The coalition partners include: Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE); Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Pennsylvania; Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project (EHP); Physicians for Social Responsibility, Philadelphia Chapter (PSR Philadelphia); and Penn Environment.

Contact -  Tammy Murphy, M.A., LL.M., Medical Outreach Coordinator, Eastern PA, Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, Physicians for Social Responsibility – Philadelphia, 1501 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, PA  19102, tammy@psrphila.org, 215.749.0960.

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