Natural Gas Infrastructure and Public Health

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

This symposium is the first non-industry sponsored workshop to comprehensively examine health risks associated with U.S. natural gas infrastructure — a system which includes hydraulic fracturing sites, interstate gas pipelines and compressor stations, underground storage facilities, and pipelines bringing gas to homes and communities.

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, the potential economic and health benefits associated with transitioning to non-polluting energy sources, and the environmental justice issues associated with natural gas infrastructure.

More than 200 individuals, including 75 public health professionals, attended the conference or viewed the live web-stream.


Click here to view the morning session.

Click here to view the afternoon session.

Click here to download the full brochure.


Morning Agenda

Moderator: Robert Horsburgh, MD


Heather Alker, MD, Chair, Massachusetts Medical Society, Committee on Environmental & Occupational Health

Robert Horsburgh, MD, Boston University School of Public Health

Featured Speaker

Barbara Gottlieb, Physicians for Social Responsibility, “Natural Gas Infrastructure and Human Health”

  • [starts at 00:11:10 in the morning session]

Speaker Panel (chair: Zeyneb Magavi)

Topic: The Landscape of Natural Gas Infrastructure in New England

Greg Cunningham, JD, Conservation Law Foundation, “Natural Gas Infrastructure: Massachusetts Legal and Regulatory Landscape”

  • [starts at 00:47:25 in the morning session]

Nathan Phillips, PhD, Boston University, “Gas Leaks 101”

  • [starts at 1:04:08 in the morning session]

Curt Nordgaard, MD, MSc, DotHouse Health, “Natural Gas Infrastructure: Emissions”

  • [starts at 1:13:42 in the morning session]

Speaker Panel (chair: Jonathan Levy, ScD)

Topic: Health Effects of Air Pollution

Mary Rice, MD, Beth Israel-Deaconess, Harvard Medical School, “Outdoor Air Pollution and Lung Health”

  • [starts at 1:40:00 in the morning session]

Elissa Wilker, PhD, Beth Israel-Deaconess, Harvard Medical School, “Neurotoxic Effects of Exposure to Ambient Air Pollution”

  • [starts at 1:55:41 in the morning session]

Jonathan Levy, ScD, Boston University School of Public Health, “The Health Benefits of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Projects”

  • [starts at 2:11:04 in the morning session]


Lunch (12:30 – 1)


Afternoon Agenda
Moderator: Jonathan Levy, ScD

Featured Speaker

Ari Bernstein, MD, MPH, Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “Health, Methane and Climate: The Path Dependency of Energy Choices”

  • [starts at 0:00:00 in the afternoon session]

Speaker Panel (chair: Madeleine Scammel, DSc)

Topic: Health and Environmental Impacts of Natural Gas Infrastructure

Kathleen Boivin, MS, Rehoboth,“Natural Gas Pipeline Safety”

  • [starts at 00:30:30 in the afternoon session]

Claire Schoellaert, MPH Candidate, Boston University School of Public Health, “Natural Gas Leaks and Urban Tree Health in Chelsea, MA”

  • [starts at 00:52:00 in the afternoon session]

Jonathan Buonocore, ScD, Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “Health Impacts of Natural Gas Extraction”

  • [starts at 1:04:25 in the afternoon session]

Drew Michanowicz, DrPH, CPH, Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “Natural Gas Infrastructure and Health”

  • [starts at 1:16:39 in the afternoon session]

Coffee Break

Speaker Panel (chair: Curt Nordgaard, MD)

Topic: The Role of Comprehensive Health Impact Assessments and the Future of Natural Gas in New England

Barry Keppard, MRP, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, “Neighborhoods Should Not Be Hazardous to Our Health: How Health Impact Assessments Improve Public Health”

  • [starts at 1:48:59 in the afternoon session]

Beth Weinberger, PhD, MPH, Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, “The Value of Health Impact Assessments in Shale Gas Communities”

  • [starts at 2:01:51 in the afternoon session]

John Rogers, Union of Concerned Scientists, “Other Risks of Natural Gas (and What We Can Do About Them)”

  • [starts at 2:21:46 in the afternoon session]

Featured Speaker

Marcus Franklin, MPA, NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, “Fumes Across the Fence Line:L The Impacts of Air Pollution from Gas and Facilities on African American Communties”

  • [starts at 2:37:40 in the afternoon session]

Round-Table Discussion

Steve George, PhD, Frank Singleton, MS, MPA, and Shaun McAuliffe, MPH, RS, on the role of municipal boards of health regarding natural gas infrastructure.



Heather Alker, MD, MPH is Professor at UMass Medical School. She performs public health surveillance on infant mortality in Worcester, serving as the statistician for the Healthy Baby Collaborative group.

Aaron Bernstein, MD, MPH, is a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital and Associate Director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Kathleen Boivin, MS, is an engineer with over 25 years of experience in the plastics/chemical industry. She has a career history of development of polymer products and processes working for companies such as Texas Instruments, Mobil Chemical, and Eastman Kodak.

Jonathan Buonocore, ScD, is the program leader for the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health climate, energy, and health team.

Greg Cunningham, JD, is a Vice President of the Conservation Law Foundation and Director of the Clean Energy and Climate Change program.

Marcus Franklin, MPA, is the Research and Systems Manager for the Environmental and Climate Justice Program at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Steve George, PhD, is the Manwell Family Professor of LIfe Sciences, Emeritus (Biology and Neuroscience) at Amherst College and a member of the Amherst Board of Health.

Barbara Gottlieb is Director of Environment and Health at Physicians for Social Responsibility, where she guides the organization’s national work on climate and energy and their impacts on health.

Robert Horsburgh, MD, is Professor of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Global Health and Medicine at Boston University School of Public Health and School of Medicine.

Barry Keppard, MRP, is the Director of the Public Health Department at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). He is a member of the Steering Committee of the Society of Practitioners of Health Impact Assessment (SOPHIA).

Jonathan Levy, ScD, is Professor and Ad Interim Chair of Environmental Health at the Boston University School of Public Health. His research centers on urban environmental exposure and health risk modeling, with an emphasis on spatiotemporal exposure patterns and related environmental justice issues.

Zeyneb Magavi has worked at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on technology-based solutions to challenges in global health. She is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Sustainability at Harvard focusing on super-emitter gas leaks and methane reduction.

Shaun McAuliffe, MPH, RS, is Health Director for the town of Hopkinton.

Drew Michanowicz, DrPH, CPH is a postdoctoral research fellow with the Climate, Energy, and Health program of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Curt Nordgaard, MD, MSc, is a board-certified pediatrician and co-founder of Massachusetts Health Professionals for Clean Energy.

Nathan Phillips, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Earth and Environment at Boston University and directs the BU Earth House Living Learning Community. His areas of interest include global change biology, tree physiology, and the structure and function of resilient infrastructure.

John Rogers is a senior analyst in the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. He has more than 25 years of experience in the energy sector, including as the manager of UCS’s Northeast Clean Energy Project.

Mary Rice, MD, is a pulmonary and critical care physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. She serves as Vice Chair of the Environmental Health Policy Committee of the American Thoracic Society.

Madeleine Scammel, DSc, is an Associate Professor of Environmental Health at Boston University School of Public Health and a JPB Environmental Health Fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She serves on the Board of Health in the City of Chelsea.

Claire Schoellaert is an MPH candidate and research assistant in the Department of Environmental Health at Boston University School of Public Health.

Frank Singleton, MS, MPA, is a member of the Weymouth Conservation Commission and a former director of health for the cities of Lowell and Chelsea.

Beth Weinberger, PhD, MPH, is a research and communications specialist at the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project.

Elissa Wilker, ScD, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an Assistant Professor in the Environmental Epidemiology, Exposure, and Risk program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.


Boston University School of Public Health

Massachusetts Medical Society

Massachusetts Association of Health Boards

Union of Concerned Scientists

Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility

Health Care Without Harm

Massachusetts Health Professionals for Clean Energy

Physicians for Policy Action

Organizing Committee

Regina LaRocque, MD, MPH

Susan Lees

Brita Lundberg, MD

Nathan Phillips, PhD

Jessica Wright