In many parts of Pennsylvania, the Marcellus Shale gas development boom has led to an increase in the amount of fracking, a process by which gas and oil are removed from shale rock. Environmental advocates are asking Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to investigate potential links between fracking and the development of childhood cancer. In an open letter signed by more than 800 individuals and 100 organizations, supporters of the move are demanding Governor Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Health undertake a thorough investigation on the effects of shale development in their communities.
According to the public letter, more than 12,000 wells have been fracked or drilled for oil and natural gas over the last 15 years in southwestern Pennsylvania alone. Northwest Pennsylvania has seen equally dramatic volume. Environmental advocates view ongoing fracking as a potential public health crisis. As fracking has become more common in the Commonwealth, there has been a notable increase in childhood cancer diagnoses, which many believe is tied to shale gas development.
The concerned citizens are demanding that the state investigate the potential link between fracking and cancer risks. Among the organizations signing the letter were the Food & Water Watch, Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, and Physicians for Social Responsibility. Celebrities including actors Mark Ruffalo and Shailene Woodley also signed the letter.
Shale fracking can release dangerous air and water pollutants into the environment. A study from Yale University identified more than 50 dangerous chemicals linked to the fracking process. Studies have shown increased levels of the carcinogen benzene in the urine of gas well workers. Exposure to these dangerous carcinogens can lead to serious and even fatal medical conditions including cancers, asthma or other respiratory conditions, cognitive deficits, low birth weights, birth defects, and infertility. In children, an increased risk of leukemia can result from such exposure.
More than 65 cases of childhood cancers have recently been reported in several Pennsylvania counties where shale gas operations have been set up. Cases of a rare bone cancer, Ewing sarcoma, have been found in Fayette County, Green, Washington, and Westmoreland counties. The open letter to Gov. Wolf seeks additional testing to determine if these occurrences meet the criteria for a cancer “cluster.”
The costs of medical expenses for individuals exposed to toxic materials can include hospital care, doctor visits, prescription drugs, rehabilitation, occupational or physical therapy, and laboratory testing. Medical costs can be overwhelming as families deal with lifelong disabilities caused by exposure to toxins.
If you or a loved has been exposed to toxic materials as a result of fracking, you may be entitled to compensation. At Williams Cedar our experienced Philadelphia environmental lawyers will work aggressively on your behalf to get the answers you need and the justice you deserve. Our offices are conveniently located in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey, allowing us to serve injured individuals throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and nationwide. To schedule a free confidential consultation with an experienced Philadelphia environmental lawyer today, call us at 215-557-0099 or 856-470-9777 or submit an online contact form.