Md. study of gas drilling health effects outlined

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — A state study of the possible public health effects of natural gas drilling in far western Maryland will be broad in scope but won’t recommend for or against hydraulic fracturing, the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said Tuesday.

The study will assess the prospective impact of hydraulic fracturing on water and air quality, noise and public safety if gas drilling is allowed in Garrett and far western Allegany counties, the agency said. The drilling technique has raised environmental concerns in other states.

The study by the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health also will gather demographic information to help state regulators understand the health vulnerability of the area’s population, the agency said in a statement.

The project won’t attempt to predict the economic, climate change or occupational impacts of gas drilling, the agency said.

The study will be delivered this summer to a state commission that was created in 2011 to advise regulators on safe drilling practices. The commission’s final report is due in August.

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