Monday, December 8, 2014

Fracking Chemicals and Health

Click for photo credit.
There is a new article out in the Reviews of Environmental Health on the impact of fracking chemicals on human health.  You can check it out here.  Thanks to Huffingtonpost Green for highlighting the article.  

As most know, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is used to release gas and oil from small pores in rocks, most notably shale. To frack, wells are drilled into the rocks and fluids, called fracking fluids, are forced into the rock to break it apart.  The composition of fracking fluids varies considerably, but can contain a variety of chemicals.  As the paper points out, some of the chemicals are hazardous to human health.  

Importantly, in most cases, companies do not reveal the composition of their fracking fluids to the public.

I don't think there would be serious opposition from the environmental community if fracking involved pumping water into the ground to break apart the rocks.  However, the chemicals used in fracking are potentially harmful.  Plus, energy companies work hard to ensure that the composition of fracking fluids are not disclosed to the public.  Indeed, they are working to make it illegal to disclose the composition of fracking fluids to the public.

In my mind, the issue of whether to be pro or anti fracking is one of disclosure.

If a company is working hard to keep the composition of chemicals they pump into the ground secret from the public, I worry.  If they are as safe as they say they are, what is the harm of letting the public know what is in them?

Failure to disclose the release of potentially harmful chemicals into the environment by industry always makes me nervous.  It is also one of the primary reasons there is so much activism against fracking in the U.S.

No comments: