Streetsboro – On Saturday, January 26, at 7:30 P.M., Concerned Citizens – Shalersville, will host Dr. Deborah Cowden, speaking on the Health Impacts of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Dr. Cowden, President of the Greene County Medical Society, currently serves as Clinic Physician at Knox County Health Department in Mount Vernon, Ohio. During her talk, Dr. Cowden will discuss air contamination resulting from hydraulic fracturing. 

Dr. Cowden, President of the Greene County Medical Society
Dr. Cowden, President of the Greene County Medical Society

She’ll share information about some conventional air contamination sources of the fracking process, including compressor stations, condensate tanks, silica sand, ground level ozone, and flaring. Further, she will make the case that there is significant air contamination at every pad and well site — first, through the drilling and flowback stages, as well as when the well is in production. Even when a well is no longer producing it can still continue to contaminate the air and present an explosion hazard.

Dr. Cowden will review a February 2012 study published by the University Of Colorado School of Public Health that was designed to assess local air quality in a region with horizontal hydraulic fracturing. The study was conducted using accepted EPA standards and methodologies for assessing air quality. Lastly, she will touch on disasters like fires and explosions, as well as the impact of closely spaced high-density hydraulic fracturing wells in a population-dense area like Portage County.

If time permits, Dr. Cowden will also cover hydrogen sulfide, which can be encountered any time during drilling or production, and has been reported to leak into the air around some well sites even after they are no longer producing. The substance has potential to be released in almost any form of oil and gas drilling and production, and is considered a poisonous gas. As such, it causes multiple symptoms, including respiratory issues, headaches, and eventually, suffocation.

Dr. Cowden became interested in the health effects of fracking when landmen began knocking on doors in her community. She became aware of the Colorado study, in a community that currently has hydraulic fracturing wells in production. As a medical professional, she ‘translated’ the medical terminology provided in the study’s findings to educate her community on the detrimental health effects that can result from the drilling process.

Dr. Cowden is Board Certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and an active member of the Ohio State Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and a member of the Practice Transformation Committee of the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians. Her speech will be held at 7:30 p.m. on January 26 at the King of Glory Church, 1667 Streetsboro Plaza. For more information, visit