A Reunion

I just returned from a reunion of sorts–the twenty-fifthanniversary of the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI.rutgers.edu)–a joint vision of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, where I earned my PhD ….. hmm …. several years ago.

Not only was it wonderful to reconnect with my old colleagues, there were many excellent speakers–big players in the fields of public health, toxicology and the like.  I was so happy to be back there, listening to a litany of the progress made in the field over the past twenty five years. When guest speaker, pediatrician Dr. Phil Landrigan of Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, discussed lead (Pb) toxicity and the long fight to remove it from gasoline in cars, I realized how much we all benefited by the hard work of other scientists, many who are not remembered, but who worked with skill and precision, and a dedication to truth, for decades.

During the morning session, the topic of environmental health impacts of natural gas drilling and ‘fracking’ was raised by emeritus professor Dr. Bernard Goldstein of the University of Pittsburgh-School of Public Health.  Nothing specific was mentioned in his short lecture, but he indicated that there is work to be done. Though still on the outskirts of research myself, I hope soon to present some material my colleagues have produced … but scientific work is slow and unglamorous. One must be precise in designing experiments, in carrying them to fruition, and then in analyzing the data. It is challenging to take that much care, but it must be done. I only hope we obtain some valid answers before the 50th reunion roles around!

Scientific Research on Fracking and Air Emissions

A University of Colorado School of Public Health study shows air emissions near fracking sites may have serious health impacts.
Researchers show air pollution caused by hydraulic fracturing may contribute to acute and chronic health problems for those living near natural gas drilling sites.

Just something to think about…

The Beginning

My memoir, Gas Drilling and the Fracking of a Marriage (Coffeetown Press, October 15, 2011), began as diary entries and e-mails, and as a way to learn the facts about gas drilling and untangle my feelings about the difficult ethical decision I was facing. I was offered a large sum of money that would be paid at the expense of the local environment and potentially by the health of the community, and while I initially refused to allow natural gas drilling on my land, I soon learned that my sacrifice might not protect either. As I researched the impacts and consulted other landowners, I discovered that they, too, had initially said no, but then ‘reconsidered, since all the neighbors were signing gas leases.’ It was a relief to learn that I was not alone in my dilemma.

But also, I simply felt compelled to write this story, and quickly, too, because it could be lost in light of new information that is now becoming  available. In hindsight, with facts spreading on a lighted table, decisions are easy and blame falls on those who don’t foresee outcomes. It’s not so easy to make wise choices when one is grappling with them.

I invite you to share your experiences about this issue and why you came to your own decisions, whatever they may be.