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Air | Disease & Environment | Energy | Environmental Health | Land | Water

General Interest - Environmental Health

    Environmental Health

Environmental health addresses all the physical, chemical, & biological factors external to a person, & all the related factors impacting behaviours. It encompasses the assessment & control of those environmental factors that can potentially affect health. It is targeted towards preventing disease & creating health-supportive environments.

Source: WHO
Allegheny River, PA    


Asthma & Air Pollution in PA

Please see this resource (PDF) including background information on this issue, strategies to address it, pertinent agencies, & additional resources.

Photo right: Donora PA, 1948 - The Donora smog gained national attention & helped lead to some of the first local & state pollution control laws, &, eventually, the 1970 federal Clean Air Act.

Donora PA, 1948

Disease & the Environment


The Quick Environmental Exposure & Sensitivity Inventory (QEESI©) was developed as a screening questionnaire for multiple chemical intolerances (MCI). Learn more (PDF)»

Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance – An Emerging Theory of Disease?

By Dr. Claudia S. Miller, Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol 105, Supplement 2, March 1997. Read article»

Abdiciton / Addiction Connection

Sometimes in science, as in politics, connections arise that may at first glance appear to be strange bedfellows. That might be the natural first impression of a potential association between chemical intolerance & addiction. But although the conditions are manifested by behaviors that appear to be polar opposites--substance avoidance (or abdiction, as some are beginning to call it) by the chemically intolerant, & compulsive substance use by the addicted--there is evidence to suggest that, biologically, they may actually have much in common. Learn more»

Chemical Exposures: Low Levels & High Stakes, 2nd Edition

By Nicholas A. Ashford & Claudia S. Miller. View book»


There Will Be Gas

August 2, 2009 — Pittsburgh-Post Gazette

A look at Western Pennsylvania's other natural gas drilling booms (and busts) - by Joel A. Tarr, the Richard S. Caliguiri University Professor of History & Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. Article

Testimonial before the U.S. House of Representatives

April 30, 2009

Testimonial by Dr. Volz to the U.S. House of Representatives on water resources & environment. Testimonial (PDF)

Women's Health & the Environment - New Science, New Solutions

September 25, 2008 — Pittsburgh Convention Center, Pittsburgh, PA

Remarks of Conrad (Dan) Volz, DrPH, MPH, Air & Water Science Panelist, “Science that Bridges the False Divide Between Ecological & Human Health-Ecological & Human Health Risks from Coal Combustion Products.” Presentation (PDF) | Talk (PDF)

Portland, Oregon’s Planning Document for Declines in Oil & Gas Availability

March 2007 — Peak Oil Task Force. Planning document (PDF)

The Impacts on Water Quality from Placement of Coal Combustion Waste in PA Coal Mines

Introducing a Call for Common Sense: The Pennsylvania Minefill Report - by Earth Justice & Clean Air Task Force. Report (PDF) | YouTube video

Environmental Health

Child-Specific Exposure Factors Handbook

The EPA is announcing the availability of a final report titled, 'Child-Specific Exposure Factors Handbook' (EPA/600/R-06/096F). It provides updated information on various physiological & behavioral factors used in assessing children's exposure to environmental contaminants. The document is available electronically through the NCEA website or you may access it directly here.

14th Annual Heinz Awards

October 21, 2008

The 14th Annual Heinz Awards has named Thomas FitzGerald, 53, founder & director of the Kentucky Resources Council its 2008 recipient in the Environment category. The Heinz Awards recipient receives a medallion inscribed with the image of Senator John Heinz on one side & a globe passing between two hands on the other. The medallion symbolizes the partnership, continuity & values carried on to the next generation. The hands also suggest passing on the stewardship of the earth to future generations. A $250,000 award for unrestricted use also goes to the recipient. The Heinz Awards are given by the Heinz Family Foundation. Learn more»

Chronic Illness Linked to Coal Mining Pollution

March 27, 2008

ScienceDaily — Pollution from coal mining may have a negative impact on public health in mining communities, according to data analyzed in a West Virginia University research study. Read more (PDF)»

Environmental Forum on Emerging Contaminants

January 24th, 2008

PA Department of Environmental Protection - A landscape perspective on antibiotic resistance, Brown & Wohl; The relationship between Channel Catfish Estrogenicity Index & the density of combined of combined & sanitary sewer overflows & metal contamination in Southwestern PA fish, Volz et al.


Marcellus Shale extraction for natural gas supplies uses chemicals that are known to present a hazard to humans & aquatic receptors

The following documents list these chemicals, address their toxicity, & give scholarly references for stated health effects.

  • PA Fracing Chemical List, Toxicity, & References - Excel
  • Marcellus Shale Drilling & the Effects on Aquatic Life - PDF
  • References for Marcellus Shale Drilling & the Effects on Aquatic Life - PDF

CHEC has no data on the concentration of these chemicals in the fracing gel or recovered fracing water; additionally, these tables do not address concentrations of toxic elements or heavy metals contained in the formation itself that may become soluble in the fracing process. More research is needed into the concentrations of elements from the formation that may become soluble in fracing water & disposed of in water bodies. Learn more»

Click here for more Marcellus Shale gas extraction information.


EPA Proposes Veto of Mine Permit Under the Clean Water Act

March 26, 2010 — Press Release

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced its proposal under the Clean Water Act to significantly restrict or prohibit mountain top mining at the Spruce No. 1 surface mine in Logan County, W. Va. Learn more»

CHEC in the News... U.S. expands efforts to regulate meds in water

December 22, 2009 — Associated Press

Federal regulators under President Barack Obama have sharply shifted course on long-standing policy toward pharmaceutical residues in the nation's drinking water, taking a critical first step toward regulating some of the contaminants while acknowledging they could threaten human health. Read more»

This Week on the Allegheny Front

September 30, 2009 — The Allegheny Front - Environmental Radio for Southwestern PA

Toxic Chemicals Legislation, Minorities and the Environment Discussed At Conference - The impact of toxic chemicals on the most vulnerable individuals – fetuses, children, & people living in poor communities – was highlighted at last week's Rachel Carson Legacy Conference. Listen»
News Analysis: What Killed Dunkard Creek? - Most of the aquatic animals that live in a thirty mile stretch of Dunkard Creek have died. The creek runs from Morgantown, West Virginia into Greene County, Pennsylvania. Regulatory investigators have spent the last three weeks trying to figure out what happened. Listen»
Dunkard Creek Residents Try to Regroup after Fish Kill - There's been a lot of speculation about what led to the fish kill at Dunkard Creek. But regardless of the cause, the death of the creek stunned the close-knit community living along one of the most biologically diverse streams in the region. Listen»

Widespread Occurrence of Intersex Bass Found in U.S. Rivers

September 14, 2009 — USGS

Intersex in smallmouth and largemouth basses is widespread in numerous river basins throughout the United States is the major finding of the most comprehensive & large-scale evaluation of the condition, according to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) research published online in Aquatic Toxicology. Read more»

Natural Gas Extraction - How to Protect Your Private Water Supply

CD program available developed by Penn State Extension water specialists
The two-part course covers the basics of gas well drilling, illustrates how drilling can impact private wells, & offers strategies that homeowners can use to protect their water supply. Learn more» (PDF)

Study Reveals Mercury Contamination in Fish Nationwide

August 19, 2009 — USGS

Scientists detected mercury contamination in every fish sampled in 291 streams across the country, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study released today. About a quarter of these fish were found to contain mercury at levels exceeding the criterion for the protection of people who consume average amounts of fish, established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. More than two-thirds of the fish exceeded the U.S. EPA level of concern for fish-eating mammals.
Press Release | Podcast | FAQs | Data & Methods

WTAE Interview on Water Usage for Shale & Natural Gas Extraction

November 13, 2008 — Channel 4 Action News

Reporter Jim Parsons has learned that government is doing more to protect water in eastern PA than here in the western part of the state.
It's happening because of a drilling boom in the Marcellus Shale of western PA. Getting through the Marcellus requires millions of gallons of water for each well. In western PA, drillers don't need anyone's permission to pump all the water they want, free of charge. Interview»

Preliminary results of dredging show Allegheny impact

October 6, 2008 — Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Conrad Volz, of West Deer & director of Pitt's Center for Healthy Environments & Communities, is identifying possible metals & toxins churned up by... Read more»

Concentrations of Pharmaceutical Estrogens & Xenoestrogens in Water

September 3, 2008

Report to the Advisory Board, University of Pittsburgh Academic Center of Excellence in Environmental Public Health Tracking (Part of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention's Nationwide Environmental Public Health Tracking Program) by Dr. Dan Volz; Manuscript in Process on Concentrations of Pharmaceutical Estrogens & Xenoestrogens in Water & Preliminary Results of Total Suspended Solids (Turbidity) downstream from Allegheny River Gravel Mining Operations. Abstract (PDF) | Presentation (PDF)

EPA Seeks Rules for Utilities' Runoff

May 3, 2009 — The Washington Post

Pollutants Scrubbed From Smokestacks Are Being Diverted Into Waterways. Learn more»

Critics Find Fault with W. Virginia DEP’s Mercury Logic

West Virginia radio station presents a program on “Critics Find Fault with West Virginia Dept of Environmental Protection’s Mercury Logic” Dr. Volz offers comment on the program. Learn more»

PA DEP Directive to PPG Industries

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP), along with evidence from the research of the Allegheny River Stewardship Project, has issued a directive to PPG industries to collect & treat wastewater at Armstrong County site. Learn more»

Ecotoxicology of Selenium in Freshwater Systems

PA Fish & Boat Commission Mussel Proposal: PAFBC proposes to amend 58 Pa. Code Chapter 75 (relating to endangered species). The proposed amendments add the salamander mussel, the rabbitsfoot mussel & the snuffbox mussel to the list of endangered species & add the sheepnose mussel & the rayed bean mussel to the list of threatened species... Proposal (PDF) | Dr. Volz's testimony (PDF)

Urban Stormwater Management in the United States

2008 — The National Academies of Science. Read report in brief (PDF)

A Tall, Cool Drink of … Sewage?

August 8, 2008 — NY Times Magazine. Article

New York State Water Crisis Looms

August 24, 2008 — The Daily Gazette

Initial steps being taken to address issue. Article (Login required)

What Concerned Citizens Should Know About Water


The Most Important Public Health Problem of the 21st Century?, Conrad (Dan) Volz DrPH, MPH. Presentation (PDF)

Regional Water Management Task Force

Regional Water Management Task Force is an 11-county effort to improve water management & water quality in Southwestern PA. Our region is endowed with an abundance of water, but we also face many challenges. Learn more»

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Page last updated:
May 2, 2011