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Workshop on Risks of Unconventional Shale Gas Development

Videos

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Resolution 171 of the Medical Society of the State of New York

Statements/Resolutions

MSSNY and PSEforHE CME courses

Videos

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Externalities of Shales: Health Impact Costs by Deborah Rogers

Public Health, Reports

By Deborah Rogers
Assessing shale production honestly and accurately requires that all externalities, or created peripheral costs, be examined in a circumspect manner. It is imprudent, indeed stupid, to consider oil and gas projects without also considering the externalities which inevitably arise due to its heavy industrial nature. A careful look at costs such as road damages are certainly warranted but road damages are not the only externality with shales. Regions heavily engaged in shale production are now experiencing skyrocketing costs directly attributable to oil and gas production which are significantly outstripping revenues provided by extraction. These costs not only include road damages but also health impact costs and loss of crops. Very little has been said about such costs in the giddy statements made about shales. In fact, it would seem that the states which embraced shales early clearly did not conduct proper due diligence on the activities that they were green lighting. All of them, including the state of Texas which has a long history of dealing with oil and gas, have been caught completely unaware by these skyrocketing costs. Road repairs alone are now estimated, in some cases, to be multiples of what states are taking in from severance tax revenue. And road repairs are only one externality of shales.
The American Lung Association (ALA) quantified the health costs of air pollution from nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC). These are two primary constituents of ozone. ALA estimates that the impact of such pollutants on the health of the people who live in regions where ozone is prolific comes to about $1648 per ton of NOx and VOC’s (2010 dollars).
The shale industry emits significant amounts of NOx and VOC’s in their day to day operations. In fact, when shale comes to town, it becomes one of the primary polluters. In Texas, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) studied air emissions from gas drilling operations in the Barnett shale region. In December 2011, TCEQ quietly submitted a report to the US EPA which confirmed that gas drilling operations in the region were producing significantly more VOC’s than all the on road mobile sources in this large metropolitan area (DFW). TCEQ estimated that gas drilling accounts for approximately 121 tons per day of NOx and VOC’s. That equates to about $202,000 per day or $73,000,000 per annum. Just for the Barnett region.
In Arkansas, emissions from shale gas production in 2008 were estimated by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to be approximately 5979 tons per annum. In a mere four years (2012), emissions had grown to approximately 20,347 tons per year based on current extrapolations. This means that health costs soared from $450,000 to $33,500,000. And this annual expense is not covered by the industry that caused it.
In the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) estimated NOx and VOC emissions from shale production in 2011 at 19,300 tons per year. That translates into health costs of nearly $32,000,000 per annum. Again, none of the costs are covered by the industry that perpetrated it.
Further, much of these calculations from the various state regulatory agencies are based on self reported emissions inventories provided by industry. Unfortunately, states simply do not have the man power or resources to adequately check and verify such estimates. Because self reporting is suspect by its very nature, particularly when done by an industry that stands to gain monetarily through underestimation, it stands to reason that these costs could conceivably be much higher. For instance, industry self reported their methane emissions in Colorado and claimed in inventories that they never exceeded 2%. But the University of Colorado, Boulder and NOAA conducted a three year study on gas fields north of Denver and found that emissions were running about 6%. They then found emissions from a gas field in Utah running about 9%. So self reporting, for obvious reasons, has its issues.
Add these health impact costs to the estimates of road damages and the taxpayers burden continues to grow exponentially. Moreover, ozone also affects crop production. Cumulatively for the Barnett, Fayetteville and Marcellus, based on very conservative estimates, we can add another $26,000,000 on to the businesses of the region for crop losses and damages.
And, yes, that would be businesses other than the one that created the problem.
Does industry think that it has a responsibility to cover the costs or take responsibility?
When a paper issued by the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) was released last October it caused quite a stir. HARC scientists concluded that significant levels of formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen and precursor for ozone, were being emitted from gas operations. This is one of the primary reasons that the remote Jonah-Pinedale gas field found itself with ozone spikes that were higher than the worst day recorded in the City of Los Angeles.
The Texas Pipeline Association (TPA) made the following statement upon perusal of HARC’s paper:
“TPA and its members desire to be good stewards of our environment and are not opposed to regulation grounded in good and supportable scientific bases. The technical paper does not provide that type of support.”
Really?
This is an interesting interpretation by TPA if only for the following reason. The Chairman Emeritus and Founder of HARC, the entity that conducted and released the paper, is none other than George Mitchell. It was Mitchell Energy that perfected the technology of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracture stimulation more popularly known as “fracking”. The current Chair of HARC is John Butler who also serves on the Board of Anadarko Petroleum. Other industry executives serve as well. It becomes a bit tricky to dispute findings from an entity whose board reads like a “who’s who” of energy academia and oil and gas.
Nevertheless, TPA stuck to its guns and stated:
“…the four significant problems identified…effectively render the conclusions meaningless”.
Billions of dollars in road repairs, tens of millions of dollars every year in health costs and agricultural damage is anything but meaningless. Unless of course, you consider privatizing profits and socializing damages an ethical way to do business.
http://energypolicyforum.org/2013/04/03/shale-externalities-health-impact-costs/


Exposure to Chemicals and Radiation During Childhood and Risk for Cancer Later in Life

Peer Reviewed, Public Health

Abstract

Purpose: Many chemical carcinogens are in food, water, air, household products, and personal care products. Although genetic susceptibility is an important factor in how an individual responds to exposure to a carcinogen, heritable genetic factors alone account for only a minor portion of cancer rates.
Methods: We review the evidence that early life exposure to carcinogenic chemicals and ionizing radiation results in elevations in cancer later in life.
Results: Because cells are rapidly dividing and organ systems are developing during childhood and adolescence, exposure to carcinogens during these early life stages is a major risk factor for cancer later in life. Because young people have many expected years of life, the clinical manifestations of cancers caused by carcinogens have more time in which to develop during characteristically long latency periods. Many chemical carcinogens persist in the body for decades and increase risk for all types of cancers. Carcinogens may act via mutagenic, nonmutagenic, or epigenetic mechanisms and may also result from disruption of endocrine systems. The problem is magnified by the fact that many chemical carcinogens have become an integral part of our food and water supply and are in air and the general environment.
Conclusions: The early life onset of a lifelong exposure to mixtures of multiple environmental chemical carcinogens and radiation contributes significantly to the etiology of cancer in later life.

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NY Assembly Public Hearing Jan 10, 2013, Larysa Dyrszka MD

Public Testimony

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Tompkins County Board of Health Resolution Requesting an Extension of Time for Review of the Revised Regulations on HVHF

Documentation, Statements/Resolutions

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Cleary Executive Report: Chief Medical Officer of Health's Recommendations Concerning Shale Gas (New Brunswick)

Videos

Professional Perspectives on Health Impacts of Hydrofracking

Documentation, Videos

Message from Concerned Health Professionals of New York to Outside Experts Assisting NY Department of Health in its Review of Fracking’s Health Effects

 


Statement in support of Concerned Health Professionals of New York

Statements/Resolutions

Philip Landrigan, MD, Chair of the Dept. of Preventive Medicine and Director, Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine
“By insisting on a comprehensive health impact assessment as a precondition for a decision to permit or prohibit hydraulic fracturing in our state, Concerned Health Professionals of New York is upholding the fundamental principles of preventive medicine. The unique vulnerability of children to chemical contaminants and air pollution – of the kind we know are associated with drilling and fracking operations – means that we must undertake the most thorough investigation and seek the input of many experts. This is no time for secrecy. Members of New York’s medical community must have access to the documents that are now under review by the team of outside reviewers. The public – who are being asked to assume risks of fracking – must likewise have input to the scientific process that is judging those risks.”


Traffic-Related Air Pollution, Particulate Matter, and Autism

Air Pollution, Peer Reviewed

Abstract

Context: Autism is a heterogeneous disorder with genetic and environmental factors likely contributing to its origins. Examination of hazardous pollutants has suggested the importance of air toxics in the etiology of autism, yet little research has examined its association with local levels of air pollution using residence-specific exposure assignments.
Objective: To examine the relationship between traffic-related air pollution, air quality, and autism.
Design: This population-based case-control study includes data obtained from children with autism and control children with typical development who were enrolled in the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment study in California. The mother’s address from the birth certificate and addresses reported from a residential history questionnaire were used to estimate exposure for each trimester of pregnancy and first year of life. Traffic-related air pollution was assigned to each location using a line-source air-quality dispersion model. Regional air pollutant measures were based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality System data. Logistic regression models compared estimated and measured pollutant levels for children with autism and for control children with typical development.
Setting: Case-control study from California.
Participants: A total of 279 children with autism and a total of 245 control children with typical development.
Main Outcome Measures: Crude and multivariable adjusted odds ratios (AORs) for autism.
Results: Children with autism were more likely to live at residences that had the highest quartile of exposure to traffic-related air pollution, during gestation (AOR, 1.98 [95% CI, 1.20-3.31]) and during the first year of life (AOR, 3.10 [95% CI, 1.76-5.57]), compared with control children. Regional exposure measures of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter less than 2.5 and 10 μm in diameter (PM2.5 and PM10) were also associated with autism during gestation (exposure to nitrogen dioxide: AOR, 1.81 [95% CI, 1.37-3.09]; exposure to PM2.5: AOR, 2.08 [95% CI, 1.93-2.25]; exposure to PM10: AOR, 2.17 [95% CI, 1.49-3.16) and during the first year of life (exposure to nitrogen dioxide: AOR, 2.06 [95% CI, 1.37-3.09]; exposure to PM2.5: AOR, 2.12 [95% CI, 1.45-3.10]; exposure to PM10: AOR, 2.14 [95% CI, 1.46-3.12]). All regional pollutant estimates were scaled to twice the standard deviation of the distribution for all pregnancy estimates.
Conclusions: Exposure to traffic-related air pollution, nitrogen dioxide, PM2.5, and PM10 during pregnancy and during the first year of life was associated with autism. Further epidemiological and toxicological examinations of likely biological pathways will help determine whether these associations are causal.

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Exemption of Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Wastes from Federal Hazardous Waste Regulations

Reports

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Chemical and Biological Risk Assessment for Natural Gas Extraction in New York

Public Health, Reports

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Oil and Gas Industry Fatal and Nonfatal Occupational Injuries

Reports, Worker Health

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Fatalities Among Oil and Gas Extraction Workers – United States, 2003–2006

Reports, Worker Health

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Consideration of Radiation in Hazardous Waste Produced from Horizontal Hydrofracking

Radiation, Reports

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Unconventional Natural Gas Development and Infant Health: Evidence from Pennsylvania (Work in Progress)

Children's Health, Public Health, Reports

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Taking the Handle Off the Fracking Pump: Human Rights and the Role of Public Health Inquiry in an Age of Extreme Fossil Fuel Extraction (Hydrofracking)

Public Health, Reports

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Ten Problems with New York’s Shale Gas Drilling Plan

Reports

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The Costs of Fracking: The Price Tag of Dirty Drilling's Environmental Damage

Reports

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