Families of children with rare cancer in Pa. call for investigation of fracking impacts

Written by on December 3, 2020

Families of children with rare cancer in Pa. call for investigation of fracking impacts

By Reid Frazier, StateImpact Pennsylvania

December 3, 2020

Range Resources was sued over the effects of drilling Washington County, Pa., in 2012. Reid R. Frazier/The Allegheny Front/StateImpact Pennsylvania

A state-funded program to study the health impacts of fracking is receiving criticism from advocates for families of children with cancer in southwestern Pennsylvania. 

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Families in Washington County who lost their children to a rare form of cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma asked the state to investigate whether nearby fracking operations had anything to do with it. 

In response, Gov. Wolf said the Department of Health would fund two studies looking at fracking’s health impacts. The studies will take three years to complete.

But Laura Dagley, with Physicians for Social Responsibility, a group that’s working with the families, says the department is keeping its inquiry too narrow. She said it declined to study whether radioactivity from fracking waste could play a role in cancer and other diseases. 

“It shows a complete lack of understanding of what the community, not only what the community is asking for, as well as a lack of understanding of the radioactivity that is present in oil and gas operations.”

The state has said it will work with an academic institution to conduct the study, but hasn’t announced the institution yet. 

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