The taxpayer-funded study followed a push by families of pediatric cancer patients
By Physician’s Briefing Staff HealthDay Reporter
WEDNESDAY, Aug. 16, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Research into a possible link between childhood health problems and natural gas wells in Western Pennsylvania is wrapping up with some answers.
Children who lived near these wells were more likely to develop rare lymphoma, the research showed. In addition, residents of all ages near the wells had an increased risk for severe asthma reactions, the Associated Press reported.
According to the AP, researchers said their look at preterm births and birth weights among families living near gas wells yielded mixed results similar to those in other studies. There is a possibility that gas production might reduce birth weights by less than an ounce on average.
The researchers found that children who lived within 1 mile of a well had five to seven times the risk for lymphoma compared with children who lived at least 5 miles from a well. That equates to 60 to 84 children per million with lymphoma for children living near wells compared with 12 per million for those living farther away, the AP reported. The association with severe asthma was found for times when crews were extracting gas, but not for when they were building, drilling, or fracking wells.
The taxpayer-funded, $2.5 million, four-year study was done by the University of Pittsburgh. It was commissioned by former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, following a push by families of pediatric cancer patients. The findings were released Aug. 15 at a public meeting at Pennsylvania Western University. Researchers could not say whether the drilling caused the lymphoma and asthma in children, because they only found an association.
Although dozens of children and young adults in a heavily drilled area outside Pittsburgh have an extremely rare form of bone cancer, Ewing sarcoma, researchers did not find a link between brain and bone cancers and gas drilling.
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