ELMIRA, N.Y. - Two Pennsylvania-based health systems plan to tap the electronic records of their patients to study possible effects of living near gas wells drilled in the Marcellus Shale region.
Guthrie Health of Sayre and Geisinger Health Systems of Danville are in the early stages of planning the research into how people might be affected by wells, some which use hydraulic fracturing, the Elmira Star-Gazette reported. The technology known as "fracking" involves pumping large volumes of water and chemicals into the ground to free gas.
The organizations said Monday that asthma, cardiovascular disease and cancer may be among the first things studied. They are now working on a budget and how to pay for the project.
In the spring, Pennsylvania lawmakers eliminated $2 million of funding that included a statewide health registry to track respiratory problems, skin conditions, stomach ailments and other illnesses potentially related to gas drilling.
David Carey, director of Geisinger's Weis Center for Research, told The Associated Press in May that policymakers need more solid information about the potential health effects of drilling and that some of the debate over the issue has been driven more by emotion than science.