Shelly Hanson has written the following article for Shale Play Ohio Valley:
WHEELING, WV – The Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department plans to help West Virginia University researchers collect air quality data related to natural gas drilling.
During a regular board of health meeting in September, Administrator Howard Gamble said Somu Chatterjee, regional epidemiologist based at the health department, is coordinating the effort with WVU. He wants to find property owners willing to allow the devices to be placed on or near their property.
After the meeting, Chatterjee said for now the air quality will be measured in Ohio County, but data may also be collected in Marshall and Brooke counties.”There is no air quality data available in the country specifically linked to gas drilling,” Chatterjee said. “We want to find out the health effects and changes in ambient air quality. … This will benefit the community and companies as well.”
The study, he said, will take into account other things that may impact air quality, such as factories or vehicle exhaust. Volunteers interested in allowing a monitor to be placed on or near their property can call Chatterjee at 304-234-3682, ext. 233.
“To be involved with this is very exciting for the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department,” said Health Officer Dr. William Mercer. The data will be collected at various sites and distances from wells and at all phases of the gas drilling process.
The air monitoring equipment that will be used was designed by Michael McCawley, associate research professor at the WVU Department of Occupational & Environmental Health Sciences. Data collected by the equipment can be checked via computer in Morgantown.
Gamble said preliminary data collected during the next few months will be used to help the university secure grant funding to conduct a larger study that likely will yield final results in four or five years.