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The Insidious and Ignored Impacts of Fracking in Southwest Pennsylvania (SWPA)

Last week, Pulitzer Prize winner Eliza Griswold’s investigative report, When the Kids Started Getting Sick was published in The New Yorker. The report details the heartbreaking story of the cancer crisis afflicting Southwest Pennsylvania (SWPA). SWPA became a prime location for fracking in 2004, when the Marcellus Shale was identified as an oil-rich formation. Since then, several families have shared the horror of their children's diagnosis and eventual deaths from the rare bone cancer Ewing sarcoma, while the fracking industry thrived in their backyards.

PSR PA Board Member Dr. Ned Keyter and Medical Advocacy Director Tammy Murphy are featured in the article to explain the life-threatening impacts of the fracking industry. Dr. Ketyer describes how "many components of fracking waste that wind up in the air, water and soil are demonstrably harmful to children's health", such as radium-236. Additionally, Tammy Murphy offers staunch criticism of the study sanctioned by the PA Department of Health to examine health impacts of fracking in PA, due to its refusal to investigate radioactive waste streams.

PSR PA strongly feels that the PA Department of Health needs to take the concerns of parents from all over SWPA seriously and urgently commission medical studies into radioactive waste and rare childhood cancers like Ewing sarcoma. Beyond Ewing sarcoma, there are 40 other rare childhood cancers that have occurred in a 4-county area in SWPA, during the same time period 27 Ewing sarcoma cases were diagnosed. That is far more than the statistical norm. Something is different, and that something is 10 to 15 years of expanded fracking activities in the view of many residents living in the Marcellus Shale gas patch. These health impacts can no longer be ignored.

Please consider taking these actions to help keep PA safe!

  • Click here to read the recent New Yorker article. Click here to learn more about the health impacts of fracking.

  • Click here to sign a petition to the Pennsylvania Department of Health calling for a comprehensive study into the health impacts of fracking.

  • Email your legislator to share your concerns about fracking. Find your legislator using this website.

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