Ewing sarcoma families synergized? Pennsylvania to spend two years and $4M to study possible link between fracking and spike in childhood cancers and other health harms: “We came in with a united goal…and it wasn’t to ban fracking. We want an investigation….” while the frac fumes, chemical spills, waste pits, leaching of radioactive waste into waterways, and drinking water contamination cases escalate unimpeded, frac chemicals remain undisclosed, even to physicians, and children die.

Where is the money coming from? Any “donations” by industry?

Ewings sarcoma: Frac’ing vs Public Health. Are oil & gas industry-funded health studies trustworthy?

New Colorado Frac Study showing health harms. If frac’ing causes short-term health harm via toxic chemicals, and harmed people continue living frac’d and poisoned by venting, flaring, leaking facilities, wells, uncleaned up spills as often happens in frac fields, the health harms become long-term IF ONE DOESN’T DIE FIRST.

State to fund studies on fracking and cancers, other health effects, Two studies will take three years, $3.9 million by Reid Frazier with files from the Associated Press, Nov 22, 2019, State Impact PA

Pennsylvania will spend $3.9 million on a pair of studies to explore the potential health effects of fracking, after months of pressure from families of cancer patients in Washington County.

The families traveled to Harrisburg Monday to make their case to state legislators and Gov. Tom Wolf. Several had lost relatives to Ewing sarcoma, an exceedingly rare form of bone cancer that mainly afflicts children.

On Thursday, the state announced the Department of Health would partner with an as-yet-unnamed academic institution [will it be the oil and gas industry’s propaganda club, the Heartland Institute, or an evil twin of it?] to conduct the studies. The state says Gov. Wolf petitioned the Department of Health to look into the issue back in July.

“It took a while to flesh out exactly what type of studies we wanted to do and then (figure out) the funding,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health. “But we take the concern expressed by the families … very seriously.” …

Dozens of children and young adults have been diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma and other forms of cancer in a four-county area outside Pittsburgh, where energy companies have drilled more than 3,500 wells since 2008. The cases were first reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Ewing sarcoma has no known environmental cause. But the families nevertheless suspect that drilling and hydraulic fracturing, the method that energy companies use to extract natural gas from shale rock, played a role.

One study will look at whether natural gas development has any role in health effects like asthma, or adverse birth outcomes. It will be attempting to replicate studies done in other parts of the state. This time, it will focus on southwestern Pennsylvania.

In the other study, researchers will look at whether living near fracking activities correlates with increased incidence of rare childhood cancers, including Ewing sarcoma.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition said in a statement it was “committed to working closely with the administration on this research” and would “encourage state officials to neutrally, fairly and without bias evaluate all potential factors” of the cancers. [Will frac’ers and the propaganda Coalition be allowed to edit the data and reports, as Encana was allowed to in the Pavillion Wyoming water contamination investigation?]

A previous study from the state found there was no cancer cluster in Washington County, but that study did not include several cases of Ewing sarcoma.

Carla Marratto Cumming, whose brother, Luke Blanock, died of Ewing sarcoma in 2016 at the age of 19, was among those who petitioned the governor Monday. She said the studies are a good first step.

“There’s obviously something going on — we just want to know what’s going on with specific, unbiased facts,” she said.

Heaven Sensky, an organizer with the Center for Coalfield Justice who’d worked with the family members, said it was a “monumental” decision for the families.

“We came in with a united goal…and it wasn’t to ban fracking. We want an investigation that looks at the correlation,” she said. [Meanwhile, children will keep dying as parents continue to protect frac’ing]

She praised the family members who advocated for the study. “They are unbelievably selfless, and they are reliving their deepest trauma over and over for the sake of others and they are nothing short of heroic. And I am confident they’re not going to stop until they feel they’ve gotten a just investigation.”

Pennsylvania to fund studies into fracking health impact by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nov 22, 2019

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has authorized $3 million to study whether shale gas operations have raised the risk of rare childhood cancers within the Canon-McMillan School District in Washington County and throughout southwestern Pennsylvania, among other potential health impacts.

On Friday, it said the grant specifically will fund “a case control study of childhood cancers, including Ewing sarcoma, in response to concerns raised about the prevalence of rare cancers in the southwestern area of the state.” 

The study will use data from the state cancer registry and cancer referral centers — and interviews — to determine population characteristics and expected numbers of rare cancer cases and whether cancer prevalence is elevated in areas affected by shale gas development. 

“This study is designed to show if those being diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma tumors or childhood cancers are more often exposed to fracking” than “control” groups elsewhere, the health department stated.

A second study will focus on “acute conditions, such as asthma and birth outcomes, that have previously showed some relations to certain industries in published literature,” according to the announcement. 

“Doing this in southwestern Pennsylvania will potentially replicate study findings from other regions using similar methodology and will greatly add to the understanding of the potential health effects related to natural gas development,” it stated.

[While frac’ing and the childhood deaths march steadily on, and harmed families dutifully say they are not opposed to being poisoned in their own homes and communities!]

A not-yet-identified academic research center or centers will perform the studies, with more precise funding to be established before contracts are signed. UPMC officials previously indicated an interest in conducting research focused on the prevalence of Ewing sarcoma and osteosarcoma — rare bone cancers mostly affecting youngsters.

Announcement of the studies came just four days after a contingent of parents and activists met in Harrisburg with Gov. Tom Wolf to ask for help in determining why so many childhood cancers seem to be occurring in their communities.

Christine Barton, mother of Ewing sarcoma patient Mitch Barton, was the first to speak with the governor Monday, and Friday morning she said the Health Department’s unexpectedly swift response was “awesome.”

“We are very happy. I think it’s wonderful the governor has listened to the concerns of the citizens and taken some actions.” Ms. Barton said. “He told us there was something in the works and we would be hearing something soon, but this is pretty quick.”

She said she is scheduled to speak with state Secretary of Health Rachel Levine and will ask her to investigate environmental exposure pathways for the cancers.

“Our concern is testing the water, soil and air. Is it the gas wells? No one really knows,” Ms. Barton said. “I would like further research into Ewing to see if environmental causes are playing a role. That research has never been done and it needs to be.”

Heaven Sensky, the Center for Coalfield Justice advocate who organized Monday’s bus trip to Harrisburg, said the governor’s commitment to conduct studies is a good first step, but how the Health Department follows through will determine its long-term significance.

“We’re happy but skeptical, and we’re going to hold them accountable,” said Ms. Sensky, who credited the families for leading the effort to lobby for the studies. “We want to make sure the process is transparent and that they will be looking at a broad spectrum of our concerns, from the wellhead, to permitting, waste disposal in landfills and petrochemical development.”

She said there remain questions about the timing and scope of the state studies, and whether the Health Department will look beyond its cancer registry to include additional Ewing cases identified in a series of articles by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. [If they don’t know yet, it’ll most likely be a repeat of the badly done previous studies that intentionally left out some Ewing Sacroma cases.]

The Post-Gazette in March and May documented six cases of Ewing sarcoma within the Canon-McMillan School District since 2008, including two diagnosed in 2018. It also identified 10 current students or preschoolers within the district who’ve been diagnosed with other types of cancer, many of them rare.

Those cancers include two cases of osteosarcoma (bone), and one case each of liposarcoma (soft tissue), rhabdomyosarcoma (muscle), neuroblastoma (nerve cell), Wilms (kidney) tumor and liver cancer, with a teenage student having passed away in February from a rare brain/spinal cord cancer known as astrocytoma. Two others have been diagnosed with leukemia, a common bone-marrow cancer in children.

Additionally, the Post-Gazette documented 27 cases of Ewing sarcoma throughout Washington, Westmoreland, Fayette and Greene counties over the past decade, with about eight cases expected in that time period, given the four-county population of 750,000. 

… Dr. Levine and her staff already have looked at available science, leading to the decision to fund the two studies, Mr. Wolf said. 

“This investment will advance science by building upon previous research and investigating the concern that there is a relationship between hydraulic fracturing and childhood cancers,” he said. “I believe this is a responsible way for the commonwealth to undertake additional research in this area.”

Dr. Levine said it’s essential to better understand the scientific evidence of public health issues related to hydraulic fracturing.

“These studies will provide us with a more in-depth understanding of this issue than we have been able to do with the resources at our disposal,” she stated.

State Rep. Sara Innamorato, D-Lawrenceville, who recently co-hosted a legislative briefing on the rise of rare childhood cancer diagnoses, hailed the announcement of the investigation and urged the Health Department to move quickly.

“I am pleased to hear that the Department of Health is responding to the stories of families whose health has potentially been impacted by natural gas development. This investigation, while overdue, is a critical next step if we want answers,” Ms. Innamorato said in a press release. “These families and the people who live in communities impacted by fracking deserve to have answers. They deserve to know if their worst fears are true. They deserve to know if they and their families have been poisoned in the name of corporate greed and profits.” [While proclaiming they do not want the poisoning to stop because they don’t want frac’ing banned. How many more of their children must die before they face frac reality?]

Pennsylvania To Spend $3M To Study Possible Link Between Fracking And Spike In Childhood Cancer by Associated Press, Nov 22, 2019, KDKA

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf says his administration will spend $3 million on a pair of studies to explore the potential health impacts of the natural gas industry.

Wolf is taking action after months of impassioned pleas by the families of pediatric cancer patients who live in the most heavily drilled region of the state.

Dozens of children and young adults have been diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma and other forms of cancer in a four-county area outside Pittsburgh.

Ewing has no known environmental cause, but the families have been pressing the Wolf administration for an investigation into any possible link between this extremely rare form of bone cancer and shale gas development.

Wolf says the research will address “the concern that there is a relationship between hydraulic fracturing and childhood cancers.”

His full statement reads:

“I want to thank the families that have shared their heartbreaking stories. I understand and support the concerns of parents and desire of community members to learn more about the possible reasons for these cancer cases. Ewing Sarcoma is rare and currently has no known environmental cause, but it is imperative that we do all that we can to thoroughly research and advance the science on the health effects of oil and gas extraction.

“Secretary of Health Levine and her team, including the commonwealth’s top epidemiological experts, have done diligent work to explore possible avenues to look more closely at available science. To further their efforts, I am directing the Department of Health to undertake two research projects that will help to better understand the possible health effects related to the natural gas industry, in particular as they pertain to confirmed cases of Ewing Sarcoma and other childhood cancers in southwestern Pennsylvania.

“This investment will advance science by building upon previous research [that intentionally left out cases of Ewing Sarcoma?] and investigating the concern that there is a relationship between hydraulic fracturing and childhood cancers. I believe this is a responsible way for the commonwealth to undertake additional research in this area.”

State Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine released this statement:

“It is essential to better understand the scientific evidence of public health issues related to hydraulic fracturing. These studies will provide us with a more in-depth understanding of this issue than we have been able to do with the resources at our disposal. I want to thank Gov. Wolf for his continued commitment to public health and finding solutions using the best data available.” [How can anyone trust the Gov. or State Secretary of Health, or these new studies, with frac’ing cruelly allowed to continue to abuse and harm impacted families during the two years of study?]

The news of the funding for the studies comes one day after a KDKA Investigation aired into whether there could be a link between fracking and a spike in childhood cancer.

Emotions are running high throughout the four-county area of Fayette, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties, and at a recent meeting in Canon-McMillan High School’s Auditorium.

With fewer than 250 cases of Ewing sarcoma recorded annually in the United States, parents and family members believe they are living in a cancer cluster and the shale gas industry is to blame.

A panel of public health experts couldn’t draw that connection.

Citing a department study, a state Health Department director said that while the number of childhood cancers may seem high in the region, they are not out of line with the rest of the state and do not constitute a cluster. [Ya, by evily leaving out some of the cancer cases!]

Against the perception, the Health Department says over the 10-year time period, the number of cancers is not “statistically significant.”

A Ewing sarcoma doctor from UPMC indicated that the cancer is primarily genetic in nature and mostly related to family history, but while current research does not show a link to environmental causes, retired pediatrician Dr. Ned Ketyer does not find that persuasive.

“The fact that there is no known environmental factor associated with the development of Ewing Sarcoma does not mean there is no environmental factor in the development of Ewing Sarcoma,” Dr. Ketyer said. “It just hasn’t been studied. The cancer is very rare.”

If environment is a factor, you could cite several other potential health threats. The region has long hosted the coal industry, industrial farming chemicals, and even an abandoned uranium disposal site.

However, environmental advocates say the spike in these cancers matches the decade-long rise of fracking and shale gas drilling.

“We’ve been living with that uranium depot for decades, we’ve been living with these chemicals. There’s one thing that’s new, there’s one thing that’s different and that’s fracked gas,” he said.

Refer also to:

Yale School of Public Health: Fracking Linked to Cancer-Causing Chemicals; Pennsylvanians Against Fracking Call on Governor Wolf to Implement Statewide Moratorium on Fracking

Pennsylvania escalating youth cancers in frac fields, Excellent response to Marcellus Shale Coalition’s latest propaganda: “We get it Mr. Spigelmyer, your job is to sell fracking…. We know the facts on the carcinogens your industry produces as do you, the endocrine disrupting chemicals it hides, and all the gagged litigants who held the smoking guns.”

Pennsylvania Attorney General Shapiro: Residents “have a state constitutional right to clean air and pure water.”

Ewing’s sarcoma takes another child in a frac field: “It’s the price you pay for deep love. It hurts.” Randy Stephen’s last wishes are being fulfilled: that his family help other families going through battles with childhood cancer.

Pennsylvania regulator allowing radioactive frac waste discharged into rivers as landfill leachate, Impacting Chesapeake Bay & Ohio River Watersheds

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Human Toll, Part 2: Industry says otherwise (of course they do!), but studies identify specific harms that shale-gas pollution can cause for fetuses, newborns, children and teenagers

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