Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

Health Statistics Suggest Drilling, STDs Not Linked

House Democrat Mike Sturla

When House Democrat Mike Sturla defended his comment about natural gas drillers spreading STDs among Pennsylvania’s “womenfolk,” he pointed to a presentation a Bradford County community hospital delivered to Governor Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission in May.

The Troy Community Hospital report did reference “an increase in sexually transmitted diseases,” in the years since drilling had increased in Bradford County. But administrator Staci Covey said she was relying on anecdotal evidence, and couldn’t provide hard statistics to back up her claim.

A preliminary look at Pennsylvania Department of Health data refutes the argument that drilling communities are experiencing increased STD rates. Cases of gonorrhea and syphilis in the commonwealth’s top 11 drilling counties have remained relatively level, when you compare figures from 2006 (the year before Marcellus Shale drilling began) and 2010. And while chlamydia cases have increased in 10 of those drilling counties, they’ve also shot up in 57 of 66 counties statewide. (Philadelphia County wasn’t included in the DOH statistics.)

Census figures for the 11 drilling counties – StateImpact focused on places where more than 100 drilling permits have been filed this year – have stayed relatively level of the previous decade. (That’s mostly because transient drillers weren’t counted in last year’s census, since many of them aren’t permanent residents.)

Gonorrhea Cases:

COUNTY 2010 2006 2010 vs. 2006
Bradford 9 10 -1
Butler 31 20 11
Forest 1 0 1
Greene 3 5 -2
Lycoming 103 47 56
McKean 4 5 -1
Susquehanna 1 3 -2
Tioga 4 1 3
Warren 3 3 0
Washington 101 128 -27
Westmoreland 74 74 0
Statewide totals 6350 6248 102

Chlamydia Cases:

COUNTY 2010 2006 2010 vs. 2006
Bradford 99 117 -18
Butler 198 183 15
Forest 12 6 6
Greene 69 40 29
Lycoming 369 271 98
McKean 88 69 19
Susquehanna 38 16 22
Tioga 70 48 22
Warren 47 26 21
Washington 465 290 175
Westmoreland 502 407 95
Statewide totals 28090 22287 5803

Syphilis Cases:

COUNTY 2010 2006 2010 vs 2006
Bradford 0 1 -1
Butler 1 0 1
Forest 0 0 0
Greene 0 0 0
Lycoming 1 2 -1
McKean 0 0 0
Susquehanna 0 0 0
Tioga 0 0 0
Warren 1 0 1
Washington 1 1 0
Westmoreland 2 3 -1
Statewide totals 131 139 -8

Data source: Pennsylvania Department of Health

Comments

  • Guest

    Let’s see… Overall, that’s a 29.3% increase in STDs in the drilling counties in the last three years, compared to a statewide increase (which also includes the top drilling counties) of 20.6%. If you were not auto-correlating the two groups, the difference between high drilling and low drilling counties would be even greater.

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