Childhood Cancer Study near Fracking in S.W. Pennsylvania

On Wednesday October 5, 2022 community members and reporters are invited to hear about the progress that has been made and ask questions about the Childhood Cancer Study being conducted by researchers at PITT.

Center for Coalfield Justice (CCJ) hosts meeting

CCJ will host a panel discussion with the PA Department of Health, University of Pittsburgh researchers, and the Environmental Health Project about the ongoing research study regarding Unconventional Oil and Gas Development, asthma rates, and sarcoma cancers among young people in our region. You can read more on the studies here.

While results are not available yet, community members are invited tohear about the progress that has been made and ask questions about the study. The meeting will take place Wednesday October 5th at the Canonsburg Town Park Yoney Pavilion from 5:30-7:30PM. Check our website and social media for registration and livestream information as it becomes available.   |   Call 724.229.3550


University of Pittsburgh Childhood Cancer Study

What are we studying?
We are studying how exposure to environmental risk factors, such as unconventional natural gas development activities, is potentially linked to childhood cancers. Childhood cancer is the third-leading cause of death in U.S. children, yet there are very few known risk factors. This study will consider some of the risks that may play a role. These include lifestyle behaviors, residential history (where people have lived over time), family medical history, potential workplace exposures, and exposure to unconventional natural gas development activities and other industrial pollutants located in Southwestern Pennsylvania. In addition, not all types of cancers may share the same risk factors, so we will also analyze the association to specific cancer types.

Why is this research being done?
This research is specifically being carried out in Southwestern Pennsylvania in part because of concern that some types of childhood cancer may be elevated. As stated above, we will consider potential risk factors for childhood cancer based on many years of previous studies. We hope that the results of this study will help us identify whether exposure to environmental risk factors, such as unconventional natural gas development activities, or where people live and work, may be linked to childhood cancers in Southwestern Pennsylvania. This will help us develop ways to counter these risks.

Who will be asked to participate in this research study?
We are recruiting a case group—families of children with cancer—to compare to a control group—families of children without cancer. Eligible participants will be contacted by the project office regarding participation in this study. For the case group, only parents will be asked to participate in this study if they have a child:

  • Who was diagnosed with Ewing’s/bone cancers at ages birth-29 years during 2010 through 2019; or
  • Who was diagnosed with Childhood Leukemia, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Central Nervous System tumors at ages birth-19 years during 2010 through 2019.
  • Resided in one of the following Pennsylvania counties:
    • Allegheny County
    • Armstrong County
    • Beaver County
    • Butler County
    • Fayette County
    • Greene County
    • Washington County
    • Westmoreland County

For the control group, only parents will be asked to participate in this study. The participants in both groups will be matched on age, sex, race, and county.

What will parents be asked to do?
Participants will be asked to complete a 45-60 minute telephone interview about individual, occupational (where they work), and environmental risk factors (e.g. potential chemical exposure where they live). Participants will be compensated for their time.

Support for Study Participants
We understand that the study questionnaire contains some potentially sensitive and personal questions that might cause some discomfort or anxiety in participants. We have in the past offered support for stress-related issues from participants. Our interviewers are very sensitive to questions being asked of the participants. We also let participants know at the outset of the interview that if any question or questions are uncomfortable, they do not have to answer.

Additionally, Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services’ ‘Mental Health in PA’ website offers multiple formats and levels of mental health resources for participants in any of the eight counties being studied. The PA Support & Referral Helpline is 1-855-284-2494 (TTY: 724-631-5600). Texting “PA” to 741741 will connect participants to a crisis counselor via text.

Any information provided for this research study will be kept strictly confidential. Information shared with others will be grouped to protect participants so that no one outside of the study team can find out any personal information.

Who is paying for this study?
The study is funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.



March 28, 2019 – CDC, state officials investigating multiple cases of rare cancer in southwestern Pa.

April 5, 2019 – Elected officials to discuss multiple cases of rare cancer in the Canon-McMillan School District

April 23, 2019 – No Ewing sarcoma cluster in the Canon-McMillan School District, state says

April 24, 2019 – Legislators will seek funding to study rare cancers in Canon-McMillan School District

May 14, 2019 – Are the 27 cases of Ewing sarcoma near Pittsburgh a cluster?

May 14, 2019 – The Human Toll – Risk and Exposure in the Gas Lands

May 14, 2019 – 12-year-old strong-arms her bone cancer

May 22, 2019 – Young lives at stake: Rural areas deserve answers on child cancers

June 17, 2019 – Industry criticizes ‘ridiculous’ request to halt shale gas drilling

June 17, 2019 – Gov. Tom Wolf asked to investigate possible link between Pa. fracking, childhood cancers

June 18, 2019 – Panel urges studies to pin down cause of childhood cancers in region

September 12, 2019 – Childhood cancers in the Canon-McMillan School District prompt a series of public meetings

September 17, 2019 – UPMC to receive state grant to study Ewing sarcoma

October 4, 2019 – Health officials to discuss Canon-McMillan Ewing sarcoma cases

October 7, 2019 – Health officials’ claim of no cancer cluster angers Canon-McMillan crowd

October 7, 2019 – Is pollution causing childhood cancers in Canon-McMillan?

November 22, 2019 – Pennsylvania to fund studies into fracking health impact

December 22, 2020 – Pitt to lead shale gas health study looking at possible ties to childhood cancers

MORE: Pennsylvania Must Act

More Leukemia in Young Children Living Near Fracking Sites

Cancer and the S.W. Pennsylvania Environment

Fracking Public Health and Policy in Pennsylvania

Risks and Harms of Fracking and Oil & Gas Infrastructure

Pennsylvania’s Shale Gas Boom – How Policy Decisions Failed

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