Given the increasing scale of hydraulic fracturing activity in the United States, it is critical for oil and gas attorneys to be in a strong position to respond to plaintiff allegations that their adverse health effects resulted from exposures downstream of hydraulic fracturing activities.
More than ever, there is increasing scientific activity related to potential human and environmental effects as a result of hydraulic fracturing.
For instance, early in 2013 the Degenstein Foundation awarded Geisinger Health System of Pennsylvania a $1 million grant to fund a medical records study on the potential health impacts of Marcellus shale gas drilling. This is being touted as the first large-scale, scientifically rigorous assessment of the health effects of natural gas production.
On another front, a newly forged interagency collaboration was formed bringing together the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) scientists to perform research related to airborne emissions and air quality at natural gas drilling sites.
Given the wide variety of studies being conducted (water and air contamination, health effects, livestock, earthquake, gas well leakage, etc.), each study must be put into a human health context which takes into account the route of exposure, the age(s) of those exposed individuals, chronicity of exposure, as well as a variety of other factors.
Due to recent increases in studies addressing a possible association between hydraulic fracturing activities and health outcome, attorneys will increasingly require the help of subject-matter and testifying experts to help win their cases.
Innovative Science Solutions excels at evaluating human health risk from environmental and occupational exposures and putting that risk into an appropriate context. ISS has considerable experience in evaluating the health implications of a variety of exposures, including those that can stem from hydraulic fracturing activities, i.e., volatile organic compounds, airborne particulates, criteria pollutants and acid gases, and water contamination issues.
Following is a description of how ISS has successfully worked “hand-in-glove” with defense attorneys to defend hydraulic fracturing:
The following section summarizes the expertise of our key personnel in evaluating environmental exposures and health issues.
heads the Liability Support Practice at Innovative Science Solutions and has over 15 years of experience defending products in important legal and public settings. Dr. Schwartz has significant expertise in the design of programs that critically review the scientific foundation for product development and product safety, including the evaluation of health risks from heavy metals exposures. Prior to joining Innovative Science Solutions, Dr. Schwartz provided scientific communication and litigation support to counsel and industry in support of pharmaceutical, medical device, foods, and dietary supplements. Dr. Schwartz received a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Princeton University and postdoctoral training in neuropharmacology from the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers University.
is a Certified Industrial Hygienist and Certified Safety Professional with more than 25 years experience evaluating chemical and safety concerns in the workplace and environment. Mr. Harnett earned his Bachelor's degree from Cornell University in Biology and M.S. in Environmental Sciences/Toxicology and M.P.H. in Occupational Health/Industrial Hygiene from the University of Texas, School of Public Health. He has performed extensive occupational and environmental evaluations for numerous volatile organic compounds, particulates, and criteria air pollutants including nitrogen oxides. Additionally, he has performed numerous chemical risk assessments making use of expertise in exposure assessment and toxicology.
is a certified epidemiologist with more than 25 years of experience. She provides scientific consulting services for private clients as well as government. Her specialty is the evaluation and analysis of scientific data to resolve complex issues. Dr. McTyre is skilled in the translation of complex scientific concepts for lay audiences and the media. She has extensive experience in the application of strategic risk communication principles, including applications to issues related to hazardous waste, the environment, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and health care products. Dr. McTyre received a Masters in Public Health in Infectious Disease Epidemiology (Yale University School of Medicine), and a PhD in Chronic Disease Epidemiology (The Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health).
is an internationally recognized scientist specializing in environmental health risk assessment and risk management science and policy. She has 30 years of experience in the biological, chemical, and social policy aspects of environmental and public health protection, writing and speaking extensively on issues related to the roles of science and risk analysis in environmental and public health risk management decision-making. Dr. Charnley focuses on strategic analysis and risk communication of complex scientific and regulatory issues to both nontechnical and scientific audiences. She works primarily on the safety of chemicals in food, environmental media, work environments, and consumer products. She has testified frequently on Capitol Hill and to many state and foreign legislative and administrative bodies. She has been the scientific spokesperson for a variety of organizations to print and television media. She serves on the National Academy of Sciences Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology and has an appointment as a Lecturer at the Yale School of Public Health. She holds an AB in biochemistry from Wellesley College and a PhD in toxicology from MIT.
has over 25 years of consulting experience in environmental health sciences, with expertise in developing strategies for and conducting exposure and risk analyses related to environmental issues and commercial and consumer products. Previously, Ms. Foster was a Managing Consultant with The Weinberg Group, a Project Manager at the Clement Division of ICF/Kaiser, an Environmental Analyst with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Policy Analysis, and a researcher for the Harvard Public Health School’s Six City Study. Her areas of specialty include the application of quantitative methods for evaluating potential risks, including multiple chemical, multiple exposure pathway risk assessments for air toxics sources and waste sites, Monte Carlo simulation, environmental epidemiology, and good risk assessment practice principles. She has managed and performed over 100 comprehensive risk assessment projects for combustion and air emission sources, and waste sites and consumer and commercial products, with specialized knowledge in the conduct of risk assessments for municipal solid waste combustors and landfills, hazardous waste incinerators and landfills, and emissions reported under SARA Title III.
Following are examples of specific issues involving putative exposures due to hydraulic fracturing activities and how ISS approached and solved each problem.