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Health survey in NEPA Marcellus area

April 17, 2013

NORTHEAST PA — Pennsylvania’s Northeast Regional Cancer Institute (NRCI) recently completed a Community Health Survey in the Marcellus Shale region of Northeast Pennsylvania. The project was funded by the PA Department of Public Welfare.

“A variety of issues related to ‘fracking’ used to produce natural gas have contributed to community concerns about potential adverse health outcomes. The data can be used as a reference point to compare the health of the community in the future should these concerns continue or grow,” said Dr. Samuel Lesko, principle investigator for the survey.

The survey documents the current health status of residents of nine counties, including Wayne County. A total of 458 individuals took part in the survey, answering questions about themselves, their medical history, where they have lived, drinking water sources and habits that are known to affect health.

“Although we gathered this data with the primary purpose of serving as a baseline for possible future investigations, it became apparent that risk factors for poor health such as tobacco use, lack of health insurance, and obesity are all common in the community. Putting potential concerns about Marcellus Shale drilling aside, this is not a community on track for better health,” said Dr. Lesko.

A sizable majority who took the survey indicated a willingness to participate in similar research in the future, which Bob Durkin, president of NRCI called a very positive sign. “The survey is a model for future studies that can continue to give us a better picture of the health of our community and ways to improve it.”