Impartiality questioned about expert studying public health impacts from drilling

NORWICH – The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York is questioning whether one of the public health experts selected to review the state’s environmental study on shale gas development can be impartial.

According to an unofficial report from the Associated Press, New York’s health department named John Adgate, chairman of the Environmental and Occupational Health Department at the Colorado School of Public Health, among two others who will review health impact data on hydraulic fracturing, the process which releases natural gas from rock by injecting a well with millions of gallons of water mixed with chemicals, soap and sand.

Adgate is the author of a study on human health risks of air emissions near well sites in Garfield County, Colorado. The report, released last spring and based on three years of monitoring, found potentially toxic petroleum hydrocarbons in the air near the wells including benzene. Benzene is a well known carcinogen.

The landowners group, of which Chenango County-based Central New York Landowners is a member, said while it has confidence in New York’s health and environmental conservation departments “to guide us through” the review, it remained “concerned that one member of the committee is the author of a Colorado study which has been widely criticized.”

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