Online Program

Field survey of health perception and complaints of Pennsylvania residents in marcellus shale regions

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Poune Saberi, MD/MPH, Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Health Systems, philadelphia, PA
Martha Powers, MES/MPH, Department of Earth & Environmental Science, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
James Logan, Environmental Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
The state of Pennsylvania lies above the Marcellus Shale geographic formation and has been subject to operations that extract natural gas by multi-well pad, high volume, hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling since 2004. Pennsylvania residents and workers have been reporting multiple health related symptoms they believe are related to natural gas extraction and processing operations (natural gas operations=NGO). The objective of this pilot clinical survey is to evaluate and characterize the perceived environmental causes of health symptoms in a Pennsylvania county where NGO are occurring. By investigating the group of residents who have not previously and publicly ascribed their illnesses to NGO, we began the process of exploring the prevalence of health symptoms in relation to NGO. Seventy-two volunteers participated out of 159 residents who were approached in a primary care office. Four components were explored in the survey: the percentage of people who pick natural gas as a concern for health problems (N=16, 22%, CI 12.5%), review of organ systems to compare to what has been previously reported, medical record review to compare reported symptoms with documented symptoms (N=5), map of residences of survey-takers in relation to gas drilling operations. The findings from this survey will guide the development of research protocols for more formal epidemiologic studies of community air, water and food shed exposures and will provide a basis for health care provider education. The results of this study will also be presented to the Pennsylvania State Department of Health to encourage the development of a registry for surveillance and investigation of all NGO related health complaints in the area.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss if residents in Bradford county, PA attribute their impaired health symptoms to natural gas activities. Identify what percentage of residents in Bradford county, PA consider natural gas as a cause of health problems. Compare health symptoms that residents complain of with those documented in their medical record.

Keyword(s): Environmental Exposures, Public Health Policy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am adjunct faculty in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine section of the Emergency Department at the University of Pennsylvania. I have been tirelessly working to learn and teach the effects of environmental factors and toxicology on personal health specifically in the context of natural gas activities. The pilot project highlighted here was made possible by a grant from the Center for Excellence in Environmental Toxicology at University of Pennsylvania.
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.