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Mysterious skin lesions appear in Pa. Marcellus shale country

A recent National Public Radio report examines the possible link between natural gas extraction in Pennsylvania’s shale country, and skin lesions that people who live in those areas are experiencing.

The report follows plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Amy Pare, who treated a resident in the Washington county village of Rae who suffered boil-like skin lesions, mostly on her hands and face.

Pare said the lesions occurred on several other people in the area. Several pathologists who examined biopsies were able to rule out cancer and determined that the lesions were an inflammatory response to an irritant.

Though Pare was unable to identify a definite cause for the symptoms, testing revealed that the urine of people from the area who suffered the inflammatory lesions had high levels of methane, hippuric acid and phenol in their urine.

According to the report, toxicologists say phenol appears in urine after exposure to benzene, a drilling-related chemical. One of the difficulties with diagnosing Pare’s patients is that the drilling companies keep secret the chemicals they use when drilling for natural gas. Without knowing what people are exposed to, it is difficult for Pare to pinpoint the cause.

Pare said she’s collecting data for a project to study health in drilling areas. Meanwhile, Lopez McHugh is investigating Marcellus shale injuries. If you have significant injuries, you may want to contact an attorney for a free evaluation.

See the report here: http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2012/04/27/doctors-in-shale-country-search-for-answers-but-come-up-short/