The Northeast Regional Cancer Institute recently completed a Community Health Survey in the Marcellus Shale region of Northeast Pennsylvania. The project was undertaken by the Cancer Institute through funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.
“A variety of issues related to “fracking” and other processes used to produce natural gas have contributed to community concerns about potential adverse health outcomes. The data we collected can be used as a reference point to compare the health of the community in the future should these concerns continue or grow,” said Dr. Samuel Lesko, principal investigator for the survey.
The survey documents the current health status of residents of Bradford, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wayne, and Wyoming counties. A total of 458 individuals took part in the survey, answering questions about themselves, their medical history, where they have lived, drinking water sources, and personal habits that are known to affect health.
“Although we gathered this data with the primary purpose of serving as a baseline for possible future investigations, it became apparent that risk factors for poor health such as tobacco use, lack of health insurance, and obesity are all common in the community. Putting potential concerns about Marcellus Shale drilling aside, this is not a community on track for better health,” said Dr. Lesko.
In addition to the health data collected, the Cancer Institute also evaluated the willingness of the community to participate in similar research in the future. A sizeable majority of participants noted that they were willing to be part of additional health-related research studies.