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Doctors Files Suit Over Pennsylvania Fracking “Gag Order”

A doctor just filed a lawsuit over Pennsylvania’s fracking “gag order,” and is telling his patients that new fracking laws will force him to break rules of ethics when treating them.

The move brings focus to many of the health issues surrounding the growing practice of hydraulic fracturing—or fracking, as it is more commonly known—in which a cocktail of chemicals, water, and sand are blasted into shale to release natural gas. Those chemicals and the remaining fracking wastewater have sparked enormous controversy regarding potential adverse health and environmental health reactions. (more…)

Bloomberg Reports Nearly 40,000 NY First Responders Worked At Ground Zero

Mayor Bloomberg has reported that nearly 40,000 New York first responders worked at Ground Zero following the attacks on Manhattan’s World Trade Center.

The exact number—an astonishing 39,921—were provided to the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, along with job, job title, age, race, and gender, said The New York Post. The Mount Sinai School of Medicine is treating first responders and just announced that Ground Zero’s toxic dust has led to an increase in cancer, said The Post. The Mayor’s announcement followed what The Post described as “a firestorm of controversy over the health of the police force,” (more…)

Zadroga Act Panel Considering Cancer Coverage

The Zadroga Act advisory panel is considering cancer coverage. The 15-member group is looking at what conditions should be covered under the Act and will likely recommend some cancers.

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act became law in December 2010 and was created to compensate first responders—those trapped in the World Trade Center buildings—and area residents, who suffered illness or injuries related to the toxic dust from Manhattan’s 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“It seems like many [members] are in favor of listing at least some cancers of some systems as World Trade Center-related conditions,” Dr. Elizabeth Ward, chairwoman of the World Trade Center Health Program’s Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee, said following recent testimony from experts and rescue workers said, the Huffington Post.

The Congressionally created panel reviews changing scientific and medical evidence, making recommendations as to which conditions should be considered for coverage under the Act’s $2.8 billion Victim Compensation Fund. The fund covers a number of respiratory-related illnesses, but many have criticized the exclusion of cancer as a coverable illness, said the Huffington Post. First responders and city officials say the cancer link to Ground Zero’s toxic air is obvious and, now, the link is becoming more.

Dr. Philip Landrigan, a dean at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, was among those testifying about findings from a not-yet published study he and his team conducted in which a 14% increased risk for cancer was seen in rescue workers, said the Huffington Post. Cancers included prostate, thyroid, and some blood. The increase, said Landrigan, is particularly “striking,” given that the group had lower levels for other, common cancers, including of the lung.

“I think that we’ve reached a point… [where] we can say with a high degree of certainty that the exposures that the responders experienced down there at Ground Zero and the other World Trade Center sites, we can reasonably anticipate that those exposures are going to cause cancer,” Landrigan told the Huffington Post. According to Landrigan, the study was the largest of its kind with 20,000 firefighters, police officers, sanitation and construction workers, and others who worked at Ground Zero following the attacks. A prior study revealed that firefighters working at Ground Zero were 19% likelier to develop cancer versus those not there, according to the New York Times.

Valerie Dabas, one of the panelists and a human resources analyst at the police Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said she’s seen some serious rises in rare blood and kidney cancers and thyroid and prostate cancer she described as being “very uncommon” in men and women so young, wrote the Huffington Post. “We keep saying the dust is different than everything we’ve seen before, and that’s how we have to treat it,” she said.

“I think it’s biologically plausible that anyone that was subject to this is going to have increased rate of cancers,” Steve Cassidy, president of the Fire Department’s Uniformed Firefighters Association told the Huffington Post regarding exposure to what he described as Ground Zero’s “toxic stew.”

John Feal, founder of the FealGood Foundation, an advocacy group for 9/11 recovery workers, said that although not all cancers should be covered under the Act, “There are cancers, unequivocally, undoubtedly, that need to be added to this bill yesterday,” according to the Huffington Post.

The advisory panel is will likely issue its recommendation as early as April concerning the cancers the Act should cover. Although recommendations are not binding, they are seriously considered, said the Huffington Post.

Florida Woman Awarded $20 Million For Husband’s Cigarette Death

A Florida woman was just awarded $20 million for her husband’s cigarette death. Dorothy Alexander’s award was against Lorillard Tobacco for the wrongful death of Coleman Alexander.

According to a statement issued by one of her attorneys, Mr. Alexander died in1995, the result of small cell lung cancer and due to his 40-year cigarette addiction, including to Kent brand cigarettes, which are made by Lorillard. The lawsuit was heard in the Circuit Court of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, Dade County, Florida, General Jurisdiction Division (Case No. 07-46830-CA01). (more…)

New York Ponders Disposal of Fracking Wastewater

Fracking wastewater disposal appears to be a key issue in the debate over whether or not to approve natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale region of New York. The wastewater that would be produced as a result of the drilling raises important environmental and health concerns, as fracking wastewater is contaminated with significant amounts of hazardous chemicals. Hydrofracking itself has often been the subject of environmental debate. Hydrofracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, is a process that extracts natural gas trapped within rock formations. In the Northeast, proponents of hydrofracking are particularly interested in the Marcellus Shale region. This black shale formation

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extends from New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio and is as deep as 7,000 feet below the ground surface. In order to extract the gas, wells are drilled deep into the ground and the rocks are fractured. If approved, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) says that drilling will likely take place in areas where the Marcellus Shale is at least 2,000 feet deep. To facilitate fracturing, large volumes of water, a slew of chemicals, and a propping material (often sand) are applied under high pressure to obtain the maximum amount of gas. This resulting waste product is millions of gallons of water that is likely contaminated with carcinogens. (more…)

Brine Tank Spills At LeRoy School Never Reported By New York DEC

A toxic brine tank spill at LeRoy Junior/Senior High School was never reported by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC). According to the DEC, the action was not an oversight, but likely a matter of policy. The town of LeRoy, New York, is at the center of a mystery illness outbreak, said NewsInferno, that has left 19 people with a bizarre set of symptoms that appear similar to Tourette’s. To date, one woman, one teenage boy, and 17 teenage girls have reported symptoms. Most have ties to LeRoy, specifically, the school. (more…)

Texas Fracking Regulations To Kick In

New fracking regulations will be effective February 1 in Texas, forcing drilling operators in that state to report the chemicals used in the process, also known as hydraulic fracturing. According to a New York Times report, landowners and environmentalists in Texas are awaiting news on what “acids, hydroxides,” and other chemicals end up in fracking wells, and experts are anxious to hear about the mandatory disclosure concerning how much water is used to frack a well. This information, in particular, said The Times, is data experts say is invaluable when determining how fracking activities impact water supplies in Texas, known to be prone to drought. Chemical and water disclosure information will be available at fracfocus.org. (more…)

Doctors Call For Fracking Moratorium

Doctors are calling for a moratorium on fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, the method by which the earth’s shale is shattered to release natural gas and oil deposits.

The fracking debate has grown significantly in recent months as gas producers tout the benefits of domestic energy and improved economics. Environmental and health advocates argue that the financial benefits are dwarfed by serious short- and long-term health and environmental effects. Now, doctors in attendance at a conference on fracking are speaking out. (more…)

Toxic Coal Ash Dumps Uncovered In 10 States

As Congress mulls deregulating toxic coal ash, 20 toxic coal ash dumps have been uncovered in 10 states. The dumps, discovered by the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), have contaminated groundwater and soil. At the same time, some members of Congress are seeking more leniency on federal oversight of toxic coal ash pollution cleanup and are asking that authority be eliminated that currently ensures compliance with significant standards. The 20 new sites identified in the report are: (more…)

New York’s Sullivan County May Not See Fracking

New York’s Sullivan County may never see any natural gas drilling via the controversial technique known as fracking, according to a spokesman for the natural gas industry. At a time when industry is looking to frack into some sensitive environmental areas, the announcement is a bit surprising, until the actual reason is revealed.

Not so much about a concern over environment, infrastructure, or human health, Sullivan County will be spared hydraulic fracturing over economics. (more…)

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