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May 8, 2015

The Honorable Larry Hogan

Governor of Maryland
Annapolis, MD 21401
Dear Governor Hogan,
As you consider signing the Maryland fracking moratorium bill (HB 449/SB409), Concerned
Health Professionals of Maryland would like to bring to your attention two new peer-reviewed
studies published in the past week. These studies, detailed below, add to the weight of the peerreviewed evidence now more than 450 studies, at least 75 percent of which have come out
since January 2013 indicating significant dangers, health impacts, and remaining uncertainties.
Maryland's prior study of fracking, overseen by former Governor O'Malley, suffers from
significant shortcomings as it does not incorporate a great deal of the recently-released studies,
which provide much of the most important evidence to date. They underscore the public health
imperative of pausing before deciding whether to allow this practice of natural gas extraction to
occur in our state.
Concerned Health Professionals of Maryland is a coalition of clinicians, researchers, and other
health professionals who are concerned about the potential health effects of unconventional
natural gas development and production (fracking) in Maryland. We have been following the
science related to fracking and public health very closely. The following two recent studies serve
to highlight the dangers and uncertainties surrounding the health impacts of fracking.
As the Baltimore Sun reported last week, a new study published in the journal Atmospheric
Environment by University of Maryland at College Park researchers found that the atmospheric
levels of ethane detected at monitoring stations in Baltimore rose significantly between 2010 and
2013, correlated with an increase in drilling and fracking the Marcellus shale in the neighboring
states of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. Ethane levels similarly increased in Washington
DC, which is also downwind from the gas development in the region. Ethane levels did not
increase in the control area of Atlanta, Georgia, where fracking is not taking place in neighboring
The data from this study suggest operational atmospheric pollution, measured ethane, is not
limited to the local drilling operations. These findings are quite disconcerting because even those
communities where fracking is not occurring may face air pollution and negative health impacts.
As the study authors state, "the limited longitudinal data of horizontal drilling with hydraulic
fracturing inhibits the ability of municipalities to completely understand the detrimental effects
from the drilling operations to its populations.
These findings emphasize the need to conduct long-term epidemiological studies. They also
highlight the failure of the oil and gas industry, and state and federal regulators, to evaluate

properly the effects of their operations on the local and regional populations. The detection of
ethane so far downwind of the operations also indicates that methane, an extremely potent
greenhouse gas, is present, as ethane is the second-most prevalent substance in natural gas. The
presence of these volatile organic compounds (VOCs) indicate incomplete combustion at the
source, indicating inefficiency in the unconventional natural gas extraction process and
demonstrating the need for stricter controls. Furthermore, the presence of VOCs can increase
ozone production and exceed current environmental standards. According to researchers,
Marcellus Shale activities would, on average, account for 12% of the total NOx and VOC
emissions and 14% of the total particulate matter (PM) in the region in 2020. NOx and VOC
pollution correlates with increased mortality and morbidity and would complicate Marylands
attainment of federal PM and ozone standards.
The other significant study published in the past week, in the Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences, highlights the potential for drinking water contamination by shale gas
development. Researchers from Penn State University tested water from three wells at homes
near drilling and fracking sites in Bradford County, Pennsylvania and found 2-Butoxyethanol or
2BE, a common drilling chemical. In animal studies, this chemical is linked to tumors. The study
found that hydrocarbons and injected drilling and fracking chemicals traveled about a mile
through a connected network of pathways into an aquifer people use for drinking water, and the
chemicals were still present 2.5 years later, when the researchers took their samples.
This chemical was not found in well water tested farther away from drilling sites. The
researchers note that they would have possibly been able to fingerprint the chemical and
compare it to the specific chemicals used at the fracking sites near the contaminated wells,
except that drilling companies would not give them access to samples of drilling, wastewater
pits, or other fluid samples. This lack of access hampers the ability of researchers to conduct
studies on potential air and water contamination related to this industry.
These studies underscore the fact that we are only beginning to get the full picture of the risks
and adverse impacts of drilling and fracking, but what we know is alarming for public health.
Given the lack of any evidence indicating that fracking can be done safely and a wealth of
evidence to the contrary, we call on you to heed the science and act to safeguard the health of
Marylanders by signing the moratorium on fracking.
Steering Committee, Concerned Health Professionals of Maryland:
Katie Huffling, MS, RN, CNM
Alliance of Nurses for Healthy

Ann Bristow, Ph.D.

Emeritus Professor, Frostburg State

Rebecca Rehr, MPH

Maryland Environmental Health Network

Luke Michaelson, PhD, RN

Cc: Van T. Mitchell, Secretary, Department of Health and Mental Hygeine