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Health firm secures $1m grant to study the impacts of fracking, natural gas drilling

Posting in Education

A protest in response to fracking projects in the U.S.

A health company based in Pennsylvania says that it has been granted $1 million to investigate the potential health problems related to natural gas drilling.

Geisinger Health System says that it has been given the funds by the Degenstein Foundation, which is an organization that provides financial support to firms in relation to environmental, education and health-based projects. The firm has been given the funds to help underwrite the Degenstein Foundation's research into potential health impacts of Marcellus shale gas drilling.

"The landscape surrounding our neighbors is in a state of immense change," said Jeffrey Apfelbaum, co-trustee of the Degenstein Foundation. "This project will make a difference in our region as we seek to better understand the shifts occurring around us."

The project is touted as a "large-scale, scientifically rigorous assessment" of the drilling, and most of the funds will go towards data collection, although project members say they expect other backers to eventually join the scheme.

The study will document the health histories of those living near Marcellus shale, a rock formation where companies have already been industriously drilling over 5,000 gas wells. Potential health effects to be monitored include asthma and cardiovascular disease.

Preliminary results are expected to be released this year, with research ongoing over the next two decades.

Recently, it came to light that Germany is looking for alternative sources of energy, but seems determined to avoid fracking -- even though the practice of extracting natural gas is now popular in the United States.

Image credit: Kate Ausburn

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— By on February 19, 2013, 1:06 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure