263454 Comprehending health implications of natural gas development through public health research

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 4:50 PM - 5:10 PM

Roxana Witter, MD, MSPH , Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Colorado School of Public Health, Aurora, CO
Natural gas has emerged as a fuel of choice which can bring energy independence to the United States, decrease air pollution from burning coal, and provide jobs in a depressed economy. The promise of natural gas however can only be achieved if public health impacts associated with the development and use of this fuel are fully understood and addressed. Although air emissions and water contamination during well development have been documented, it is not known to what extent chemical hazards impact the health of local and regional populations. Furthermore, estimates of fugitive methane emissions suggest that the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas is larger than previously thought and that development of natural gas as a substitute for coal and oil may not improve climate change predictions as much as initially thought. So that policy makers can understand how development of natural gas can affect the health, research investigating environmental contamination due to air pollution, methane emissions and water contamination is emerging. Researchers are also embarking on epidemiological health outcomes research utilizing a variety of research tools including cohort surveys, biological monitoring, and database analysis. Whether future policy makers will consider health in their decision making will depend upon the public health community's ability to provide them with sufficient knowledge to reach informed cost-benefit conclusions. This presentation will review published, ongoing and planned studies addressing health and natural gas development.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Occupational health and safety
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
The audience will be able to to describe the available public health literature related to health impacts of natural gas development.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal investigator of health impact assessment of environmental exposures associated with natural gas development. I have also lead the development of several study designs submitted to a variety of agencies to investigate the risk of health outcomes in natural gas development areas.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.