FaCT has been working on constructing, piloting, refining, and using the Ohio Health Registry for the past three years. It is our main program right now. Why is a health registry so important?
As we know the oil and gas industry is expanding in Ohio with unconventional development of tight shales. This intensive industrial process with all of its threats to the environment is inevitably impacting human health in this state and beyond. A health registry attempts to answer the questions: Who is being impacted? How is their health being impacted? Which aspects of shale development cause which health problems over what period of time?
To be clear, the Ohio Health Registry is not doing the research. It is only identifying individuals who are willing to share their health data with researchers and collecting baseline health data for each individual as a starting point. The Ohio Health Registry is then making this information available to qualified researches to conduct research over time to help answer the questions above.
What will be the benefits to public health and to the health of individuals of a health registry and subsequent research using the registry?
In terms of public health, the registry will allow researchers to inform public health advocates and policy makers. If certain operations and infrastructure are causing health problems, these can be better regulated, restricted, or even eliminated. For example, this research can help determine if setbacks from homes, schools, hospitals, etc. are adequate for various oil and gas infrastructure. How much air pollution is being generated? Could filters be applied or leak prevention measures taken? Is well water being contaminated, and what kinds of measures can be taken to eliminate this threat to the health of water well users? Research can also help public health officials, medical professionals, and government leaders allocate the right kind of health and medical resources to various affected communities throughout the state.
This is not to say that a health registry will automatically change policy for the better. We all know the political and financial barriers to better policy. But without solid and detailed data, it is much harder to move the needle. This is why the Ohio Health Registry is so important. It provides the raw data that researchers can use to give us all an accurate and thorough account of what shale development is doing to the people of this state.
For more information or to participate in the Ohio Health Registry, email to: email@example.com