At a conference in Arlington, VA, Monday doctors called for a pause in the use of hydraulic fracturing well stimulation “so that necessary research can be done into the potential harmful effects on human health.”

The conference to address public health aspects of unconventional gas drilling was sponsored by the nonprofit Physicians Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy and the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment.

“When it comes to hydrofracking, our guiding principle for public policy should be the same as the one used by physicians: ‘First, do no harm.’ There is a need for scientific and epidemiologic information on the health impacts of fracking,” said Dr. Adam Law of Weill Cornell Medical College. “Frankly, no one should be unleashing even more fracking before we have the scientific facts. There are health care needs in various gas drilling communities and these must be met. The reality is that industry has not done nearly enough to finance the needed research effort.”

Another speaker, Dr. Jerome Paulson of the George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences, said, “There are a lot of questions related to the human health and ecological impacts of this process of unconventional gas extraction that need to be answered. The answers to the questions about the human and ecosystem health impacts here will only come from scientific research…

“I recommend that the drilling and energy companies fund an independent foundation that would support research related to human and ecosystem health.I also recommend that the drilling and extraction companies reveal the full description of all chemicals used and the quantities of those chemicals used to the public.”

A number of states have mandated the disclosure of frack fluid contents (see Shale Daily, Sept. 8, 2011).

The conference was titled “Epidemiologic and Public Health Considerations of Shale Gas Production: The Missing Link.”