On November 19, the Center for Healthy Environments and Communities sponsored a day-long conference to explore the science and methodological approaches behind understanding environmental health impacts associated with increasing development of natural gas extraction from shale deposits found under wide geographical areas of the United States.
According to conference organizers, natural gas plays a key role in the nation’s clean energy future and energy independence. Over the past few years, several key technical, economic, and energy policy developments have spurred increased gas extraction and especially the use of hydraulic fracturing to recover gas over a wider diversity of geographic regions and geologic formations. However, as with any technology that involves management of potentially toxic substances, there have been increasing concerns about the impact of increased hydraulic fracturing and other associated gas extraction procedures on drinking water resources, air quality, public health, and the environment in the vicinity of gas extraction facilities. The United States government has identified a lack of critical research on these impacts and gaps in basic research pertaining to the mobilization of toxic hazards, regional differences in hazards generated, pathways of human exposure, and amounts of exposures that hamper full assessment of health risks from the hazards released during current gas extraction methodologies.
The conference included speakers from around the country who presented the scientific challenges and issues that are being explored by government and academic investigators, as well novel methodologies being employed to assess the health impacts and reduce the hazards produced by gas extraction, refining, and delivery operations. A full conference agenda, as well as biographies of the invited speakers, can be viewed here.
In addition, Pitt\'s University Times published several articles about the conference that can be viewed here, here, and here.