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Residents near natural gas wells report health problems

Pennsylvania residents living near natural gas wells have reported a range of health problems including respiratory difficulties, skin rashes, severe headaches and fatigue.

Those findings come from a survey that Earthworks, a Washington-based environmental group, conducted of 108 residents in 14 Pennsylvania counties, Bloomberg reports.

According to the report, more than 5,000 wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania’s portion of the Marcellus Shale — a gas-rich underground formation that also extends into New York, Ohio and West Virginia — since 2009.

A process called hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as “fracking,” was used to drill the wells. It involves pumping millions of gallons of water and sand underground to break up the subterranean shale rock and free trapped gas.

Fracking water contains toxic chemicals including the carcinogen benzene, and critics have raised concerns about the potential environmental impact.

According to the Bloomberg report, fracking has been linked to groundwater contamination in Pennsylvania, high ozone levels in Wyoming and now to health impacts for people living close to wells. The Earthworks survey found those living closer to the wells reported higher rates of symptoms.

The report quotes Nadia Steinzor, the study’s lead author, as saying there should be no more permitting for drilling until regulators have a better understanding of fracking’s health impacts.

“Many residents have developed health symptoms that they did not have before, which is a strong indication that they’re occurring because of gas development,” Steinzor says.

Lopez McHugh is investigating injuries related to natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale natural gas reserve. If you have significant injuries, contact a Lopez McHugh attorney for a free evaluation.

See the story here:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-18/marcellus-gas-wells-likely-harming-public-health-survey.html