[Skip to Content]

Panel to address health implications of hydrofracking

Syracuse, N.Y.—Four environmental health experts will discuss the health implications of hydrofracking in an Upstate Medical University Public Health Symposium Wednesday, April 13 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Weiskotten Hall, 766 Irving Ave., Syracuse. The symposium is free and open to the public.

The symposium will feature a panel of four experts on the potential health implications of hydrofracking. Panelists will cover how unconventional gas development from shale formations can lead to environmental contamination; how environmental contamination can impact human health, the endocrine system in particular; how to monitor groundwater and surface water for contamination; and the potential health effects and other hazards associated with the chemicals used in hydrofracking.

Horizontal, high-volume, slick-water hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as hydrofracking, is a process used to extract oil and natural gas from hard rock formations, such as shale. The oil and gas are drawn out through fissures in the rock formation. These fissures are created through horizontal drilling deep into the rock formation, then sending high-pressured amounts of water, sand and chemicals down into the fractures. The sand and water hold the fissures open while the chemicals act as lubricants to help ease the gas out of the rock. The nearby Marcellus Shale formation has the potential to provide natural gas from its hard rock formation.

"This symposium is an effort to educate people on the process of hydrofracking, which is new to New York State", said Donna Bacchi, M.D., MPH, director of the Central New York Master of Public Health (CNYMPH) program. "This event offers an opportunity to provide the public with an overview of the process of hydrofracking, possible health implication that may arise, as well as how best to monitor water and health conditions should any potential complications come up."

The panelists are:

•Anthony R. Ingraffea, Ph.D., a professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University. Ingraffea is considered a world expert on in the field of fracture mechanics for gas and oil extractions.

• Adam Law, M.D, Ph.D., a clinical assistant professor of medicine at Cornell Medical College, specializes in internal medicine, specifically the endocrine system. Dr. Law speaks widely on the threats to human health posed by environmental contamination associated with unconventional gas extraction.

• Stephen Penningroth, Ph.D. is the Executive Director and Senior Scientist at the Community Science Institute and Technical Director of the Institute's water-testing laboratory. Penningroth has authored a textbook for non-specialists titled "Essentials of Toxic Chemical Risk: Science and Society".

• Thomas Shelley is a former chemical hygiene officer at Cornell University. In his retirement, Shelley volunteers with sustainability-related organizations and speaks widely on the possible health effects of hydrofracking.

The event is sponsored by Upstate's Department of Preventive Medicine and the Onondaga County Medical Society. Presentation content is intended for both the health care community as well as a lay audience.

For more information on the symposium visit www.upstate.edu/cnymph/grandrounds.php