Pennsylvania doctors already were flying blind when it came to answering their patients’ anxious questions about the health effects of fracturing. In an essay in the Harrisburg Patriot-News in February, Dr. Marilyn Heine, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, reported that some of her colleagues were being asked if symptoms like rashes might be tied to fracking chemicals, or whether they should have their well-water tested. She said that medical expertise is being “handcuffed by a lack of research.”
Act 13 adds a muzzle to the handcuffs.
Sponsors of the bill say that the confidentiality agreement is necessary because the exact cocktail of carcinogens – and 650 of 750 of the chemicals used in fracking are known to cause cancer – are “trade secrets,” and that doctors might spread them to competitors in the oil and gas industries.
Isn’t it far more likely that they know that if people knew about the massive amounts of benzine, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and other toxins to which they and their kids have been exposed, they would ask more questions – and ask them louder?