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We Know How Bad Fracking Is For Children

Three health studies released last week by the University of Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania Department of Health confirm what the Post-Gazette editorial board (“Who pays for fracking’s harm?” Aug. 20 ) should have known for years from dozens of published epidemiological health studies and more than 2,000 other peer-reviewed scientific studies, government reports, and media investigations contained in PSR’s Compendium: “the clear fact that fracking has hurt people, specifically children.”

Even if Pitt was unable to show an association between fracking’s toxic pollution and radioactive waste and Ewing sarcoma, the higher risk of lymphoma found in children living within one mile of a fracked gas well and the large increase seen in asthma severity, ER visits, and hospitalizations within 10 miles of a well (10 miles!) should stir “some of the darkest fears about the threat” of fracking in everyone.

The studies searched for correlation, not causation, but there are things already known beyond a reasonable doubt: Fracking scars the landscape and degrades the environment; pollutes the air, water, and soil we all share; threatens wildlife, aquatic creatures, farm animals, and family pets; accelerates climate change; and makes people sick. The real question is: Why is anyone surprised?

There is enough objective evidence for Gov. Josh Shapiro and the state legislature to act decisively and adopt health-protective policies. Increasing setback distances (a policy the editorial endorses, though a half-mile may be too close based on these and other findings), requiring disclosure of every chemical used, and better monitoring of fracking’s toxic waste stream would be a start.

Doing nothing would be irresponsible — for the health of our people and our planet.

Edward C. Ketyer Venetia Mr. Ketyer is the president of Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania

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