A new Pennsylvania law allows doctors to gain access to information about which chemicals are used for fracking, even those which aren't disclosed to the public because they are considered "trade-secrets." Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a method of extracting natural gas from underground shale deposits using chemically treated water. While intended to help physicians treat illnesses whose cause is suspected to be related to fracking, the access comes at a cost: doctors must sign an agreement not to tell anyone, possibly even their patients, which chemicals are being used.
In areas of Pennsylvania where fracking is widely practiced, doctors have been seeing an increasing number of ailments whose cause remains a mystery. Fracking operations give off many fumes, and doctors have complained that it is impossible to treat patients without knowing exactly which chemicals they may have been exposed to. In order to help, doctors have been allowed access to a list of chemicals used in fracking not available to the public, so long as they sign a confidentiality agreement first. The confidentiality agreement makes doctors nervous, leaving them to wonder if they could be held legally liable for disclosing information about the trade-secret chemicals to their patients, even if doing so is a necessary part of care. In response to these concerns, a bill has been introduced to the Pennsylvania legislature seeking the removal of the confidentiality requirement from rules allowing physicians full access to fracking chemical information.
Residents who live near fracking operations have long suspected that the chemicals involved in the process have a negative impact on their health; now that Pennsylvania doctors will have access to a full list of the involved substances, substantiating those fears is likely to become easier. If you or a loved one has become ill or suffered property damage, and you suspect fracking is the cause, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact a personal injury attorney from Arnold & Itkin today for a free consultation regarding your case.