In response to growing concerns about the potential health impacts of environmental factors, Pennsylvania residents now have the option to submit complaints online. This development comes on the heels of a recently released state-commissioned report from the University of Pittsburgh, which explored a possible connection between health issues, such as cancer and asthma, and natural gas development.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health has introduced an online complaint form to streamline the reporting process and facilitate the state’s response to these concerns. This move is seen as a proactive step to engage with residents and address their worries more effectively.
The backdrop for this initiative includes a 2020 grand jury report that accused both the Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Protection of neglecting the concerns of residents in southwestern Pennsylvania communities in favor of natural gas companies. These allegations were met with denials from the agencies, which subsequently requested a comprehensive investigation through the University of Pittsburgh.
The university’s report, however, did not find a conclusive link between childhood leukemia, brain cancer, bone cancer, and natural gas development. Similarly, the report could not definitively establish elevated risks for asthma complications and lymphoma due to environmental factors.
Despite these findings, the Department of Health remains committed to serving as a resource for residents who have concerns about their health and its potential connection to the environment. The department has a history of collaboration with scientists who have long been dedicated to addressing environmental health issues. This partnership dates back to a decade ago when unconventional gas wells began to proliferate across the state.
Since the launch of the online complaint form on August 11th, the department has already received 53 voluntary submissions. This demonstrates that residents are eager to voice their concerns and seek reassurance regarding their health and the environment. The introduction of this online platform aims to foster a more transparent and accessible channel of communication between residents and state authorities in Pennsylvania.