By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new study shows an increase in hospitalizations in two Pennsylvania counties with large numbers of shale gas wells.

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The study is the latest in a flurry of studies that show a link between gas drilling and health problems.

Researchers looked at a large data base of 198,000 patients hospitalized from 2007 to 2011 in three counties: Bradford and Susquehanna, with a high well-density, and Wayne, where a drilling moratorium made it the perfect control group.

Senior author of the study, Penn Medicine Professor Reynold Panetteiri, says they found more patients, particularly with cardio-vascular problems, where wells were the densest.
“We believe the collective exposure to hydraulic fracturing could increase hospitalizations.”

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Dr. Panetteiri says the study did not establish cause and effect and more study is needed but he says three studies in three months now have found links between fracking and ill-health.

“We need to take into account the economic consequences,” said Panetteiri, “that is the health care consequences of hydraulic fracturing that to-date has been ignored.

The Petroleum Association says it’s reviewing the study and plans to comment later.

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