From Fresh Air, WHYY, NPR:
“I hear [stories] thousands of miles apart, in various states, and to me — to an untrained medical professional — they sound alarmingly similar,” he says. “But when we go to federal or state health officials, or drilling officials, or any officials, and ask ‘How common these are?’ … Nobody really knows. Nobody has systemically tracked how many health complaints there are, whether the complaints are similar, whether they can be tied to any specific chemical exposure or any environmental cause. It makes it very difficult beyond an anecdotal answer to get a handle on how widespread a problem this might be.
Part of the problem, writes Lustgarten, is that “the drilling companies have complicated efforts to gather pollution data and to understand the root of health complaints.”
“The Clean Air Act requires reporting of emissions so that the government can collect the [toxic emissions] data from facilities of a certain size,” he says. “The oil and gas facilities often fall under that threshold and an exemption allows them not to be aggregated or counted together. Because these facilities are small, there is no obligation to report to federal authorities what pollutants might be emitted from those facilities … which means there’s no information to paint a bigger picture of what communities are dealing with.”