A health study of communities near the oil sands is long overdue

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A health study of communities near the oil sands is long overdue

A Fort McMurray physician fears a newly announced study will fall short of exploring a link between oil sands pollution and community health.

Band members in Fort Chipewyan are celebrating a pending examination by University of Calgary sociology professor Cora Voyageur in their community.

But Dr. John O'Connor fears that the community's calls for an exploration of physical health, included elevated cancer rates will not be answered by the study.

"You know what I am not taking away from what Dr.Voyageur is doing as a sociology professor I think she has a deep connection to Fort Chipewyan." explains O'Connor. "I think it very important as well, and what I am most concerned about is the impact on physical health." 

"The opportunity for a baseline snapshot is long gone unfortunately but at this stage there should be especially some public health involvement." says O'Connor. "I couldn't emphasize enough the independent analysis of the health of the community and also some non-governmental oversight anyway so that it's not complete independence."

The provincial and federal governments have committed partial funding for the study, and work is expected to get underway this Spring.

Band officials were unavailable to respond to O'Connor's concerns.
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