Natural Gas Infrastructure and Public Health Conference, Jan 30, 2018

NGI and Public Health Conference - Boston University 1-30-2018.jpg

To view the conference video:


Health Experts Highlight Risks & Unknowns across the Natural Gas Infrastructure System.

Boston, Massachusetts – January 31, 2018 – A gathering of medical, public health and environmental experts painted a picture of an antiquated, poorly maintained US natural gas infrastructure system that poses significant health and safety risks from well to home.

The symposium, held on January 30th, 2018 at Boston University, was the first non-industry sponsored workshop to comprehensively examine health risks across US natural gas infrastructure —  a system which includes hydraulic fracturing sites, interstate gas pipelines and compressor stations, underground storage facilities, and pipelines bringing gas to our homes. Physicians, public health professionals, and scientists presented data on the relationship between natural gas infrastructure and adverse health outcomes, air quality, seismic activity, explosion risks, water contamination, urban tree damage, and climate-warming methane pollution. Subject area experts presented analyses of the economic risks of continued investment in natural gas infrastructure and the potential for large economic and health benefits associated with transitioning to non-polluting energy sources.

Highlights of the meeting include:

The medical literature shows associations between unconventional natural gas extraction and multiple human health outcomes, including premature birth, respiratory disease and childhood cancer.

  • Natural gas leaking from streets and in homes in Boston contains over 100 volatile organic compounds, known carcinogens, and odorants that are associated with chronic and acute health problems.
  • Federal regulators shut down fossil fuel drilling infrastructure in a predominantly African-American community after years of complaints only when they themselves suffered health impacts.
  • High pressure gas storage facilities like Aliso Canyon near Los Angeles, where a pipe failure resulted in an unprecedented natural gas release in 2015-16, are wholly exempt from federal safety regulations.
  • Only 7% of over 300,000 miles of high pressure interstate gas pipelines require Integrity Management protocols, while more than half of the pipeline nationally is over 50 years old. Explosions such as the Salem Township, PA explosion in 2016 directly result from risk management failure.

Featured speakers included Aaron Bernstein, Associate Director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Marcus Franklin, Research and Systems Manager for the Environmental and Climate Justice Program at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; and Barbara Gottlieb, Director of Environment and Health for Physicians for Social Responsibility.

An anticipated outcome of the full-day symposium is a consensus statement by environmental and public health professionals on the health and safety risks of natural gas infrastructure. The symposium Natural Gas Infrastructure and Public Health: from Local to Global, was attended by over 150 medical and public health professionals, municipal officials, and community members. A full list of speakers and recording of the event is available at


Nathan Phillips

Boston, Massachusetts