When the Kids Started Getting Sick, an article published in The New Yorker this Monday, tells the heartbreaking story of the cancer crisis afflicting Southwest Pennsylvania (SWPA). The article is written by Eliza Griswold, Pulitzer Prize winner for the novel "Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the fracturing of America". SWPA became a prime location for fracking in 2004, when the Marcellus Shale was identified as an oil-rich formation. The article focuses on several families who shared the horror of their children's diagnosis, and eventual deaths from the rare bone cancer Ewing sarcoma, while the fracking industry thrived in their backyards.
PSR PA Board Member Dr. Ned Keyter and Medical Advocacy Director Tammy Murphy are featured in the article. Dr. Ketyer detailed why "many components of fracking waste that wind up in the air, water and soil are demonstrably harmful to children's health", such as radium-236. Additionally, Tammy Murphy offered staunch criticism of the study sanctioned by the PA Department of Health to examine health impacts of fracking in PA, because it refuses to investigate radioactive waste streams.
PSR PA strongly feels that the PA Department of Health needs to take the concerns of parents from all over SWPA seriously and urgently commission medical studies into radioactive waste and rare childhood cancers like Ewing sarcoma. Beyond Ewing sarcoma, there are 40 other rare childhood cancers that have occurred in a 4-county area in SWPA, during the same time period 27 Ewing sarcoma cases were diagnosed. That is far more than the statistical norm. Something is different, and that something is 10 to 15 years of expanded fracking activities in the view of many residents living in the Marcellus Shale gas patch.