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Pennsylvania Parents Want to Keep Fracking at a Distance

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014   

BUTLER COUNTY, Pa. - As natural gas drilling pads, pipelines and compressor stations spring up around the state, groups of parents calling themselves Protect Our Children are hoping for at least a one-mile buffer between infrastructure and schools and playgrounds.

Penni Lechner, a mother in Summit Township, says her family has experienced a number of health problems since fracking arrived in the area, especially with nosebleeds, headaches and rashes. A well pad is located just 900 feet from the local school, and 500 feet from the playground.

"They put the drilling rig up, and then they fracked it," she says. "There's an impoundment pond back there that holds chemical water. There's no fence; the kids can just walk right up there if they want to."

A study conducted by Yale University and funded by the Heinz Endowments was released in September showing the closer people live to operating gas wells, the more likely they are to report health problems.

David Brown, a toxicologist with the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, says the Yale study identified more than a dozen health impacts in up to 40 percent of local residents who were interviewed.

"They ranged from rashes to difficulty breathing to heart problems to confusion," he says. "A lot of cognitive effects. Headaches, and an intense sense of fatigue."

The study did not conclude definitively the health effects resulted from fracking, but the researchers have called for further investigation.

Another study from Penn State University funded by the gas industry showed fracking water stored underground does not contaminate drinking water.


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