Fracking Health Complaints Received Little Follow-up from Health Department

  • Skylar Sowatsky holds up a sign at a rally in Butler, Pennsylvania. She and her family moved after they say fracking polluted their water. Her mother, Kim McEvoy, says the Department of Health was no help. Photo: Susan Phillips | StateImpact Pennsylvania

by Susan Phillips | State Impact Pennsylvania

June 26, 2015

Newly released documents from the Pennsylvania Department of Health on fracking-related health complaints reveal a lack of follow-through and inaccurate record-keeping. The telephone logs, which span four years from 2011 to 2015, were gained through a Right-to-Know request by the environmental group Food and Water Watch.

The documents include about 87 separate complaints from residents and workers who feared exposure to fracking chemicals and were looking for advice from the Department of Health. But notes taken by agency workers show little information is collected from patients.  And at least in one case, important details were inaccurate. In some cases, doctors were looking for help.

The bulk of the complaints came from northeast and southwest Pennsylvania. They often included similar complaints of skin rashes, respiratory problems and nose bleeds.

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