David Brown, a public health toxicologist and director of Public Health Toxicology for Environment and Human Health, Inc., spoke about the lack of a public health presence in the evaluation of exposure hazards and health concerns related to this gas extraction process. Not only do medical people not know what to do, they do not know what they don’t know, according to Brown. He was clearly concerned about the lack of an orderly collection of data regarding health impacts. And he emphatically stated when you have uncertain results and significant exposure, you stop the exposure. He issued an urgent call, “we must do something.”
He listed the following as the most common symptoms of exposure: skin rashes, breathing difficulties, sinus problems, nosebleeds, throat irritations, abdominal pain and cramps, nausea, vomiting, sleep disturbances and anxiety. Persons are experiencing these health impacts who are not exposed to contaminated ground water, so toxic air is also affecting those near the gas fields. Brown provided some suggestions for things to do to minimize impacts
For clean air, do the following:
• Manage air ventilation of your house; consider use of filters and air cleaners
• Don’t track toxic dust into your home
• Clean your house often
Use clean water:
• For cooking, showering and drinking
• Get comprehensive water tests every 3-6 months; do not rely on a one time test
• If water appears to burn skin and/or cause a rash, see a physician immediately.
Look for changes
• Keep an environmental and health diary
• Check water often for changes in conductivity
From my point of view, the research is far behind the rapid development of the gas industry. Too many of us will be negatively impacted before the research catches up. That is why David Brown’s recommendation makes so much sense: when you have uncertain results and significant exposure, you stop the exposure.