Pitt School Of Public Health, PA Dept Of Health Abruptly Pull Out Of Public Meeting They Helped Convene
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Last week, the University of Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly dropped out of a public meeting on their own environmental health studies. FracTracker Alliance, alongside several other organizations, put out a media statement about this decision, linked below:
Figure 1. The joint press release by partners including FracTracker Alliance.
The health impacts of the oil and gas industry are known to many in southwestern Pennsylvania. But over the past few years, fears that the industry could be contributing to a high number of Ewing sarcoma and other pediatric cancers propelled many families to take action. Alongside organizations like the Center for Coalfield Justice, impacted families traveled to Harrisburg in 2019 to talk to the Governor and demand this research.
I joined these families back in 2019, and was able to witness the power of a community coming together. The pressure worked and the research began. In 2021, the University of Pittsburgh invited me to join the External Advisory Board for the studies, to, among other things, “ensure necessary scientific integrity, transparency, and credibility for the studies.” I accepted, grateful for the opportunity to help be a bridge between the public and scientific research.
Since the studies began, there haven’t been substantial opportunities for the community to get an update. So when these institutions suddenly backed out of a community meeting one week before it was scheduled, many of us were left frustrated, disappointed, and with a lot of questions. I made the difficult decision to resign from the External Advisory Board, alongside three other members, feeling I was no longer able to serve the role as it was described to me.
I encourage residents in southwest Pennsylvania to still attend the public meeting, taking place on October 5 at 5:30 PM. You can participate virtually or in-person; register here for all of the details. We’ll be sharing information about these studies and other public health research, and steps you can take to protect your health. The results of the studies are not available yet, but we’ll give you more background on the scope and limitations that will help you understand the results when they are ready. You can participate virtually or in-person.
The Community Meeting
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