Testimony presented to EPA in Philadelphia, PA on November 8, 2100
766 Butternut Grove
Montoursville PA 17754
My name is Barbara Jarmoska, and I live on 20 acres of rural land in northern Lycoming County Pennsylvania.
I am unable to travel to Philadelphia to be here in person today, and appreciate the opportunity to present my testimony by proxy.
With a Masters Degree in Special Education and 30 years experience in the field of natural health, I have a particular concern regarding the potential for harm that the full scope of natural gas production has on our most vulnerable population.
Our children are in crisis, and as we worry and wonder who will bear the cost of health care and education for the rapidly growing numbers of special needs children, we continue to allow industry to pour thousands upon thousands of toxic substances into the air we breathe.
Nowhere in the human body is the environment more intimately wed to our being than in the lungs, where 300 million air-filled alveoli comprise a space equal to the size of a tennis court. The diameter of a human hair is about 70 microns. The width of the alveolar membrane is one micron. On one side – air – one the other side – blood. Breathing is truly our most ecological act. Chemical pollutants have greater access to us through respiration than by any other means.
It is a known fact that exposure to toxic chemicals in utero, in infancy, and in early childhood can influence programming of brain development and of the immune system.
To quote research published in the British Medical Journal, Lancet , “The combined evidence suggests that neurodevelopmental disorders caused by industrial chemicals have created a silent pandemic in modern society.”
Living atop the Marcellus, we hear much about the promised economic growth that we can expect at the hands of the gas industry. But how does this gas boom compare to the 77.3 billion dollars per school year that special education services now cost U.S. taxpayers? Annual costs to care for one autistic child can exceed 3.2 million over a lifetime. One in every 110 eight year olds in the U.S. is now on the autism spectrum.
Air pollution from the gas industry MUST be viewed in aggregate, for it is in aggregate that these chemicals enter the lungs – and remain to do their damage.
Gas drilling brings urban-style air pollutants into the rural countryside, filling the air with ozone-making, smog-producing byproducts of the type linked in children to lowered IQ, preterm birth, asthma and stunted lung development. What's more, these pollutants travel hundreds of miles.
I promise you this, regardless of any governmental determination on aggregating the volume of toxins, the human body cannot but aggregate the potential for harm through bio-accumulation.
Today, we stand at a crossroads. We can rush to extract the gas by means of deep shale drilling, poisoning billions of gallons of fresh water and adding to our already burdened atmosphere. Through government subsidies and tax incentives, we can ignore the human cost and build a new infrastructure based on methane gas. Or, we can make the decision now to honor the lives that will be here after we are gone.
I urge you to pass desperately needed regulations; laws that so tightly control the pollutants generated by the gas industry that you change the course of history and move this nation in a new direction, where health and clean air are viewed as basic human rights.