Fracking health project puts numbers to debate

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A project examining the local health impacts from natural gas drilling challenge the industry position that no one suffers, but also suggest the problems may not be as widespread as some critics claim.

The Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project is one of the first long-term attempts to monitor drilling-related health impacts.

Over the last 18 months, the project found 27 cases in Washington County plausibly linked to gas drilling activities — seven cases of skin rashes, four of eye irritation, 13 of breathing problems and three of headaches and dizziness.

A spokesman for the energy industry group Marcellus Shale Coalition says that, in general, air quality across the nation is improving thanks to expanded natural gas use.

Gas generally emits less pollution than coal-fired power plants.

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