Speaker to discuss health data with respect to Marcellus Shale development May 7

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Brian Schwartz, professor at Johns Hopkins University and senior investigator in the Department of Epidemiology and Health Services Research at Geisinger, will speak at Penn State on health data related to Marcellus Shale development.

Schwartz will talk from 4 to 5 p.m. Monday, May 7, in 112 Walker Building. His presentation, titled “Does Unconventional Natural Gas Development Affect Human Health,” is free and open to the public. The event is part of the EarthTalks series, sponsored by Penn State’s Earth and Environmental Systems institute (EESI).

Schwartz is an environmental epidemiologist and a physician who specializes in occupational and environmental medicine. He serves as director of the Environmental Health Institute, a joint effort between Johns Hopkins and Geisinger to study how changes in land use, energy production, and food and water systems impact human health in central and northeast Pennsylvania.

His talk will review how epidemiologic studies are done; how unconventional natural gas development could affect human health and the possible pathways; the differences between individual-level and contextual exposures; findings from the research that has been completed from the Environmental Health Institute; and then a brief summary of ongoing work.

The Marcellus Shale boom began about a decade ago in Pennsylvania due in part to technological advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” More than 10,000 unconventional wells have been drilled since, but “fracking” has remained controversial due to concerns about potential environmental and health impacts.

Schwartz, a professor in the Department of Environmental health Sciences in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, examines health effects of chemicals through occupational, environmental and molecular epidemiology studies.

More recently, he has focused on global environmental sustainability, including how land use, energy choices, food production, and water quantity and quality are contributing to global climate change, ecosystem degradation, biodiversity and species losses – and ultimately how these factors pose health risks to humans.