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State health department revamps environmental/drilling policy

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The state Department of Health is changing how it handles responses to environmental health concerns and complaints specifically related to Marcellus Shale drilling.

Environmental health is an aspect of public health that examines how different environments affect a person’s well-being, according to a news release from Health Secretary Michael Wolf. He announced the changes after instituting a committee at the beginning of the summer to look at ways to improve the process, particularly when it comes to informing the public.

According to the release, the revisions include:

• Provide information on how to file an environmental health complaint through various partners throughout the state, including targeted outreach to the medical community, who are often the first to learn of environmental health concerns;

• Rework the environmental health section of the department’s website with emphasis on accessibility and ease of navigation;

• Institute a written letter response policy for all environmental health concerns to better track and document correspondence that takes place between the department and those who express concerns;

• Coordinate and communicate better with the Department of Environmental Protection when dealing with complaints involving both agencies as well as when complaints need to be transferred from one agency to another.

“The department’s priority is to address the public’s concerns, whether they are about environmental health in general or specifically related to Marcellus Shale drilling,” Wolf said in the release. “I believe by implementing these straightforward changes, Pennsylvanians will be better informed about what the department does and how we can be of assistance.”

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