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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Geisinger to begin study of public health impacts of natgas development

Pennsylvania's Geisinger Health System has received a one million dollar grant to begin studying the possible public health impacts of natural gas development. (Full disclosure: I have consulted to Geisinger in the past.)

Geisinger's announcement described the study’s purpose:

The goal is to create a cross-disciplinary, integrated and sharable repository of data on environmental exposures, health outcomes and community impacts of Marcellus Shale drilling -- the first systematic longitudinal study to do so…Some of the potential health effects that are likely to be investigated first include asthma, trauma and cardiovascular disease.

Guthrie Health and Susquehanna Health
will collaborate with Geisinger in the planning and execution of the study.

This is an extremely important development.  While additional funding will be needed to build out Geisinger’s vision, this will be the first major effort to answer vexing questions about the public health impacts of drilling. The University of Pennsylvania has also announced a study plan in collaboration with scientists from Columbia, Johns Hopkins and the University of North Carolina.

Geisinger will begin to provide answers soon - the first preliminary results are expected to be available in about a year.

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