The boom in hydraulic fracturing for natural gas raises medical worries for a number of female health activists and researchers. “We need comprehensive studies to assess long-term problems,” says public health professor Madelon Finkel.
Creeping over the darkened hills of Concord Township, Ohio, past oak and maple trees and through an open window, the intruder entered Kari Matsko’s home without a sound.
“It was only when I woke the next morning that I realized something had changed,” says Matsko. “I had unexplained muscle spasms and terrible neck pain. I saw three doctors, and spent four months recovering. Then a neighbor told me about the 3 a.m. hydrogen sulfide gas leak from a nearby fracking operation that sent her whole family to the emergency room with aches and pains the same day I got sick in 2006.”
Now heading a grassroots group called The People’s Oil and Gas Collaborative of Ohio, Matsko is among the growing number of women who are fighting health problems associated with hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” a drilling process that harvests natural gas from rock.
“When I found out why I fell ill, I thought ‘How could residents not be notified there was fracking nearby? How could this even be legal?'” says Matsko. “Because oversight is lax and studies are sparse, I’m still asking the same questions today.”…