The McIntyres of Butler County, Pa., no longer drink the water piped into their home. They no longer brush their teeth with it, shower or do laundry with it.

"We use water for nothing other than flushing the commode," said Janet McIntyre, after describing her family's wide-ranging health problems -- from projectile vomiting to skin rashes -- that she attributed to the water.

McIntyre and her husband, Fred, were among more than 100 people recently surveyed by the Oil and Gas Accountability Project at Earthworks, an environmental and public health advocacy group based in Washington, for a report published on Thursday, which suggests that widespread contamination of air and water by natural gas drillers in Pennsylvania has triggered an array of health problems, including sinus, respiratory and mood problems.

"We have a serious timing problem," Nadia Steinzor, of Earthworks, said during a press call on Thursday. "Natural gas development is accelerating rapidly, but knowledge about its impacts on the environment and people is coming much slower."

Natural gas production is expanding across the country. While the burgeoning industry has lowered U.S. energy costs, some experts and advocates say they're increasingly concerned that the natural and manmade chemicals released during drilling, hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) and reinjection are making more people sick.

"They are playing roulette with public health," said Steinzor, lead author of the report.

Rates of symptoms since drilling began generally went up the closer people lived to gas facilities, according to the survey. Children averaged 19 health problems, with throat irritation and severe headaches topping the list.

In addition to asking participants about symptoms before and after natural gas development, the research team conducted 34 air tests and nine water tests. They wrote that many of the chemicals detected have been linked to oil and gas operations, as well as with many of the symptoms reported in the survey.

Critics of the report said the 108 residents surveyed across 14 Pennsylvania counties came from Earthworks' contacts and participants' own networks.

"This report seems somewhere between anecdotal and a rigorously designed study," said Rob Jackson, a biologist at Duke University. He said the report fills a "critical gap."

"The health effects are the biggest uncertainty with this issue. There's almost no information about it," said Jackson, whose research has found some evidence for elevated levels of gases such as methane in water supplies close to gas wells. "That doesn't mean there are huge health effects. We just don't know."

Steinzor acknowledged the report doesn't prove fracking harms public health. She added: "An absence of proof is not proof of absence."

Some recent studies have offered hints. Earlier this year, researchers suggested that average birth weights may drop and peoples' exposure to known carcinogens may rise close to natural gas development sites. Another study found animals living near fracking wells suffered serious health effects. (The McIntyres' dog suddenly died around the same time they began to be sickened by what they believe is their water.)

LuAnn Brink, a visiting assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh, shared Jackson's mixed reaction to the study. "Earthworks represents a biased group of highly motivated individuals. As such, the interpretability of this work is limited," she said. "However, the conclusions of this work are in line with public health, including enhanced surveillance for disease outcomes of interest in affected areas, as well as an evaluation of the 'loopholes' in environmental regulations, including the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, for which it was provided an exemption under the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

"Public health has not been invited to the table yet," Brink said, referring to the relatively "new industry."

Dan Whitten, spokesman for America's Natural Gas Alliance, said he sees the situation differently. "Hydraulic fracturing has been used for more than six decades with an excellent safety track record," he said. "Extensive federal and state regulations are in place to address public health and safety."

Earthworks also released a study in September that quantified doubts that environmental advocates have with such a statement. As HuffPost reported, government inspections of wells, as well as fines for regulatory violations, according to the report, are generally too infrequent and too small to change drilling company behavior.

Industry representatives dismissed that report, much as they have done with the new one.

"The conclusion of this study is not supported by either history or the broader science surrounding natural gas development," Whitten said. Companies that belong to his trade group "take seriously the responsibility of ensuring the safety of our operations."

Janet McIntyre said that drinking bottled water and using a shower at a family member's home have reduced many of the symptoms plaguing members of her family, including her young daughter. But she said she believes the continued irritability, headaches, breathing and other health problems come from air contaminated by the drilling. McIntyre is among the 80 percent of survey participants who reported smelling bad odors.

And then there's the noise. "It's constant, 24 hours a day," she said. "It keeps me up at night."

McIntyre, who turned 53 on Thursday, said this might be the first presidential election since she turned 18 in which she won't cast a vote. President Barack Obama received her vote in 2008.

"I'm so frustrated," said McIntyre. "We're not getting answers. I think Obama needs to sit back and really take a look at it, instead of just saying, ' We need this, we need this.' We need more regulations and stiffer penalties."

Of course, while both presidential candidates have expressed support for expanding natural gas development, McIntyre is aware that Republican challenger Mitt Romney has pledged to reverse Obama's four years of "overregulation."

"Not voting is not good either," she said.

Also on HuffPost:

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  • In this file photo from Oct. 14, 2011, a drilling rig is seen in Springville, Pa. State regulators blamed faulty gas wells drilled for leaking methane into the groundwater in nearby Dimock, Pa. It was the first serious case of methane migration said to be related to the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale gas field drilling boom. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, FILE)

  • British police secure the area where demonstrators erected a mock fracking rig with a banner reading 'No fracking in the UK' in a protest against hydraulic fracturing for shale gas outside the Houses of Parliament in London on December 1, 2012. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS

  • SPRINGVILLE, PA - JANUARY 18: A truck with the natural gas industry, one of thousands that pass through the area daily, drives through the countryside to a hydraulic fracturing site on January 18, 2012 in Springville, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

  • SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 30: Protestors stage a demonstration against fracking in California outside of the Hiram W. Johnson State Office Building on May 30, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Dozens of protesters with the group Californians Against Fracking staged a protest outside of California Gov. Jerry Brown's San Francisco offices demanding that Gov. Brown ban fracking in the state. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • People demonstrate on August 3, 2013 in La Petite Brosse, near Jouarre, outside Paris, to protest against an exploratory oil shale drilling, considering that it opens the door to the exploration of shale gas in the Parisian Basin. Banner reads 'Stop gas and oil shale'. AFP PHOTO / PIERRE ANDRIEU

  • In this Nov. 26, 2012 photo, Steve Lipsky demonstrates how his well water ignites when he puts a flame to the flowing well spigot outside his family's home in rural Parker County near Weatherford, Texas. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had evidence a gas company's drilling operation contaminated Lipsky's drinking water with explosive methane, and possibly cancer-causing chemicals, but withdrew its enforcement action, leaving the family with no useable water supply, according to a report obtained by The Associated Press. The EPA's decision to roll back its initial claim that hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” operations had contaminated the water is the latest case in which the federal agency initially linked drilling to water contamination and then softened its position, drawing criticism from Republicans and industry officials who insisted they proved the agency was inefficient and too quick to draw conclusions. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

  • In this file photo of Jan. 17, 2013, Yoko Ono, left, and her son Sean Lennon visit a fracking site in Franklin Forks, Pa., during a bus tour of natural-gas drilling sites in northeastern Pennsylvania. Ono and Lennon have formed a group called “Artists Against Fracking,” which has become the main celebrity driven anti-fracking organization. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

  • In this March 29, 2013 file photo, a worker checks a dipstick to check water levels and temperatures in a series of tanks at a hydraulic fracturing operation at a gas drilling site outside Rifle, Colorado. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

  • In this March 29, 2013 file photo, a worker switches well heads during a short pause in the water pumping phase, at the site of a natural gas hydraulic fracturing and extraction operation outside Rifle, in western Colorado. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

  • In this March 29, 2013 file photo, workers tend to a well head during a hydraulic fracturing operation at a gas well outside Rifle, in western Colorado. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

  • Josh Fox, director of the anti-fracking, Oscar-nominated documentary “Gasland” testifies during a House Committee hearing on oil drilling, "fracking" legislation at the Illinois State Capitol Tuesday, May 21, 2013, in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

  • This is a Thursday Aug. 15, 2013 image of the Cuadrilla exploration drilling site in Balcombe, southeast England. (AP Photo/Gareth Fuller/PA)

  • A child plays near a farmers' protest in an area where oil company Chevron plans to put a drilling rig exploring for shale gas in the south-eastern Polish village of Zurawlow on June 11, 2013. AFP PHOTO / JANEK SKARZYNSKI

  • Protesters hold a banner during a protest outside of the Momentive resin plant, Monday, July 8, 2013, in Morganton, N.C. Dozens of environmental activists blocked a chemical plant Monday to protest against the company's sale of products used in the natural gas drilling process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. (AP Photo/The News Herald, Mary Elizabeth Robertson)

  • A fracking rig exploring for shale gas of oil company Chevron on June 11, 2013 in a village of Ksiezomierz in south-eastern Poland. AFP PHOTO / JANEK SKARZYNSKI

  • People demonstrate on August 3, 2013 in La Petite Brosse, near Jouarre, outside Paris, to protest against an exploratory oil shale drilling, considering that it opens the door to the exploration of shale gas in the Parisian Basin. AFP PHOTO / PIERRE ANDRIEU

  • Opponents of hydraulic fracturing in New York state attend a news conference and rally against hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, on January 11, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

  • Eric Weltman of Food & Water Watch attends a news conference and rally against hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, in New York State on January 11, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

  • Opponents and supporters of gas-drilling, or fracking, walk into the last of four public hearings on proposed fracking regulations in upstate New York on November 30, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

  • Engineers on the drilling platform of the Cuadrilla shale fracking facility on October 7, 2012 in Preston, Lancashire. (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)

  • Engineers at work on the drilling platform of the Cuadrilla shale fracking facility on October 7, 2012 in Preston, Lancashire. (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)

  • General views of the Cuadrilla shale fracking facility on October 7, 2012 in Preston, Lancashire. (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)

  • Engineers look at the Cuadrilla shale fracking facility on October 7, 2012 in Preston, Lancashire. (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)

  • A lump of shale rock on display at the Cuadrilla shale fracking facility on October 7, 2012 in Preston, Lancashire. (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)

  • Engineers on the drilling platform of the Cuadrilla shale fracking facility on October 7, 2012 in Preston, Lancashire. (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)

  • Engineers at work on the drilling platform of the Cuadrilla shale fracking facility on October 7, 2012 in Preston, Lancashire. (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)

  • Drill heads on display at the entrance to the Cuadrilla shale fracking facility on October 7, 2012 in Preston, Lancashire. (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)

  • An engineer displays a lump of shale rock at the Cuadrilla shale fracking facility on October 7, 2012 in Preston, Lancashire. (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)

  • Actor/director Mark Ruffalo (C) speaks at the Hydraulic Fracturing prevention press conference urging the protection of the drinking water source of 15 million Americans at Foley Square on April 25, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images)

  • (L-R) Actor/director Mark Ruffalo, Denise Katzman, Wenonah Hauter, and Water Defense co-founder/campaign director Claire Sandberg attend the Hydraulic Fracturing prevention press conference urging the protection of the drinking water source of 15 million Americans at Foley Square on April 25, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images)