Occupational Health and Safety
October 8th 2015 The much awaited third edition of the Compendium of Concerned Health Professionals of New York has been published online. This is a huge collection of mainly peer reviewed scientific papers with some government information. The references are all given so you can check the details and strength of the paper. The reports are a plain English summary of the main findings and the impacts of fracking are listed according to the publication date and the category of impact – Air, Water etc. It is not a difficult read but best taken in small amounts regularly.
December 4, 2014 – Benzene, a naturally occurring component of crude oil and natural gas, is a known carcinogen, with no known threshold of safety. Although the American Petroleum Institute stated in 1948 that “the only absolutely safe concentration … is zero,” the organization since then undertook an intensive campaign to combat strict exposure limits. An investigation by the Center for Public Integrity found that, “[f]or decades, the petrochemical industry spent millions on science seeking to minimize the dangers of benzene. … Taken together, the documents — put in context by interviews with dozens of lawyers, scientists, academics, regulators and industry representatives — depict a ‘research strategy’ built on dubious motives, close corporate oversight and painstaking public relations
August 29, 2014 – In a peer-reviewed study, NIOSH partnered with oil and gas operators and service companies to evaluate worker exposures to, and internal uptake of, volatile organic chemicals at six sites in Colorado and Wyoming where wells were being prepared for production. The study found benzene in the urine of wellpad workers. Benzene is “naturally present in flowback fluids and the time spent working around flowback and production tanks … appears to be the primary risk factor for inhalation exposures.” In some cases, airborne concentrations of benzene exceeded the NIOSH Recommended Exposure Limit concentrations and, in a few instances, the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value, “when workers performed work tasks near a point source for benzene emissions.”
November 11, 2014 – University of Wisconsin toxicologist Crispin Pierce documented that super-fine dust drifts from facilities that process silica sand for fracking operations. Pierce and his team detected silica dust in ambient air near frac sand operations at levels that that exceed EPA air quality standards by a factor of four. Occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica is linked in adult workers to silicosis, lung cancer, and pulmonary tuberculosis. Health threats to the general public from frac sand-related air pollution have not yet been studied directly. One of the first investigations of silica dust levels in the community environment, the Wisconsin study will appear next year in the National Journal of Environmental Health.
October 6, 2014 – Toxicologist Peter Thorne, chair of University of Iowa’s Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, warned the Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors about potential community impacts and cancer risk of silica exposure from sand used for fracking operations. Thorne’s ongoing investigation, which involves air sampling, risk assessments, and inhalation toxicology studies, focuses on the public health hazards of mining, processing and storing sand. His team has documented spikes in silica particulate matter related to the transport of the silica sand by rail. The study aims to determine if mining poses an “unacceptable exposure” to the public and quantify the level of risk. For silica-exposed workers, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) continues to identify needed heath protections. Thorne noted, “Workers handling materials should be using respirators, but most are not.
April 24, 2014 – A University of Texas San Antonio report commissioned by the Methodist Healthcare Ministries found that many oil and gas field workers in the Eagle Ford Shale are uninsured or underinsured and that “the most noticeable health impacts so far are work-related illnesses and injuries: heat exhaustion, dehydration, sleep deprivation, exposure to oil and gas spills and accidents.” The study also noted that oil and gas production has put strain on healthcare facilities.
February 25, 2014 – A year-long investigation by the Houston Chronicle found that fracking jobs are deadly, with high fatality rates and high rates of serious injury. Within just one year in Texas, 65 oil and gas workers died, 79 lost limbs, 82 were crushed, 92 suffered burns and 675 broke bones. From 2007 to 2012, at least 664 US workers were killed in oil and gas fields.
One of the most toxic chemicals that gas workers and local residents may encounter. It forms a gas readily and inhalation causes respiratory failure. Spills and skin contamination from mixing the chemical prior to fracking can cause burns, multi-organ failure and death. Contaminated patients are a hazard to health workers especially if their clothing or boots are contaminated. The vapour form of HF moves sideways rapidly and can kill by inhalation. Any description of the effects make one wonder why it is ever used in industrial quantities.
HF/hydrofluoric acid easily penetrates the skin and muscles, rapidly destroying cell membranes and nerves, causing necrosis. People who are exposed can also develop systemic effects such as cardiac dysrhythmia and cramps.
Hydrogen fluoride gas is converted to hydrofluoric acid when in contact with the moisture in eyes, mucous membranes and skin. The progression of damage and effects are the same as for HF/hydrofluoric acid in general.
NB! It can take several hours before pain and injury develop in body tissue. Hence it is very important that you do not underestimate the seriousness of the situation, even if you have no symptoms immediately after exposure. The period of time from exposure to hydrofluoric acid to pain and corrosion depends on the concentration:
It is used ‘because it works’ but with no regard for workers safety nor others who may come across it as a secret ingredient. It allegedly increases gas production by up to 30% in reluctant shales.
July 14, 2014 – As part of an analysis of safety and research needs associated with drilling and fracking, researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health and the College of Health Sciences at the University of Wyoming documented high injury and on-the-job mortality rates among gas and oilfield workers. The occupational fatality rate was 2.5 times higher than that of the construction industry and seven times higher than that of general industry. By contrast, injury rates were lower than the construction industry, suggesting that injuries are underreported. Researchers documented crystalline silica levels above occupational health standards and identified the existence other hazards, including particulate matter, benzene, noise, and radiation. The team called for exposure assessments for both chemical hazards and physical hazards that lead to occupational illness (noise, radioactivity); screening and surveillance systems to assess incidence and prevalence of occupational illness; industry/academic collaboration to conduct occupational epidemiologic studies; and assessment of the effectiveness of industry interventions to reduce exposure
May 8, 2014 – A report by the AFL-CIO found that the fracking boom has made North Dakota the most dangerous state for U.S. workers—with a fatality rate five times higher than the national average—and that North Dakota’s fatality rate has doubled since 2007. The AFL-CIO called North Dakota “an exceptionally dangerous and deadly place to work.” U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez called the rising rate of workplace deaths suffered in the oil and gas sector “unacceptable.”
July 2014 – The British labor journal Hazards, identified health concerns in the drilling and fracking industry: increased rate of death on the job, toxic releases, silica exposure,and exposure to hydrocarbons and endocrine disruptors. The union that organizes the construction, rig and transport workers on which fracking would rely, agreed at its July 2014 national conference to lobby for a moratorium on fracking because “(d)elegates want union members to be made aware of the dangers of fracking and be advised not to work on fracking sites.
May 19, 2014 – Underscoring the dangerous nature of chemicals used in fracking operations, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reported that at least four gasfield workers have died since 2010 from acute chemical exposures during flowback operations and warned that that flowback operations can “result in elevated concentrations of volatile hydrocarbons in the work environment that could be acute exposure hazards.” The agency further noted that such volatile hydrocarbons “can affect the eyes, breathing, and the nervous system and at high concentrations may also affect the heart causing abnormal rhythms.
February 25, 2014 – A year-long investigation by the Houston Chronicle found that fracking jobs are deadly, with high fatality rates and high rates of serious injury. Within just one year in Texas, 65 oil and gas workers died, 79 lost limbs, 82 were crushed, 92
suffered burns and 675 broke bones. From 2007 to 2012, at least 664 US workers were killed in oil and gas fields.
A few jobs but at what price? Extensive exposure to harmful chemicals and an excess of fatalities in the industry. Deaths in the oil and gas extraction industry are 2.5 times that of other construction work and 7 times that in other industries. The accident rate is low in comparison suggesting under-reoporting.
Public Health, measured effects
30 March 2015. A report from MEDACT highlights the wide variety of risks and the concerns about greenhouse gases from fracking.
I have chopped edited highlights out which are quite digestible.
October 2, 2014 – According to researchers from the University of Pennsylvania’s Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology, an increasing number of gas wells in Pennsylvania is significantly correlated with inpatient rates of hospitalization. The research team collected data from seven different insurance providers for three counties; the study’s publication is forthcoming.
September 11, 2014 – In Texas, commercial vehicle accidents have increased more than 50 percent since 2009 when the state’s ongoing drilling and fracking boom began, according to an investigation by the Houston Chronicle and Houston Public Media News 88.7. “For six decades, highway deaths have dropped steadily all across the United States …. But in Texas all motor vehicle fatalities – and accidents involving commercial trucks – have turned back upward since the state’s oil drilling and fracking boom began in 2008.” This rising motor vehicle death toll is especially felt in formerly rural counties in the Eagle Ford and Permian Basin, now places of heavy drilling and fracking. A new “Road Check” program finds annually, “… 27 to 30 percent of Texas’ commercial trucks shouldn’t be operating at all due to potentially life-threatening safety problems like defective brakes, bald tires, inoperable safety lights and unqualified, unfit or intoxicated drivers.”
August 3, 2014 – Hospitals in the Bakken Shale region reported a sharp rise in ambulance calls and emergency room visits after 2006. “Mercy Medical Center in Williston and the Tioga Medical Center in neighboring Williams County saw their ambulance runs increase by more than 200 percent. Tioga’s hospital saw a staggering leap in trauma patients by 1,125 percent. Mercy had a 373 percent increase.” Drugs (including overdoses of prescription drugs, methamphetamine, and heroin) explain many of the cases, with oilfield related injuries such as “fingers crushed or cut off, extremity injuries, burns and pressure burns” accounting for 50% of the cases in one of the region’s hospital emergency rooms.
May 21, 2014 – Raising questions about possible links to worsening air pollution from the Uintah Basin’s 11,200 oil and gas wells, health professionals reported that infant deaths in Vernal, Utah, rose to six times the normal rate over the past three years. Physician Brian Moench said, “We know that pregnant women who breathe more air pollution have much higher rates of virtually every adverse pregnancy outcome that exists …. And we know that this particular town is the center of an oil and gas boom that’s been going on for the past five or six years and has uniquely high particulate matter and high ozone.”196 Although it formerly had pristine air quality, Uintah County, Utah received a grade “F” for ozone in the American Lung Association’s 2013 State of the Air Report.
January 28, 2014 – Congenital heart defects, and possibly neural tube defects in newborns, were associated with the density and proximity of natural gas wells within a 10-mile radius of mothers’ residences in a study of almost 25,000 births from 1996-2009 in rural Colorado. The researchers note that natural gas development emits several chemicals known to increase risk of birth defects (teratogens)
October, 2013 – A preliminary 2013 Cornell University study of the health impacts of oil and gas extraction on infant health in Colorado found that proximity to wells—linked with air pollutants from fracking operations—was associated with reductions in average birthweight and length of pregnancy as well as increased risk for low birthweight and premature birth.200 A study by the same author, currently under review, which analyzed births to Pennsylvania mothers residing close to a shale gas well in Pennsylvania from
2003-2010, also identified increased risk of adverse effects. This includes low birth weight, as well as a 26% increase in APGAR scores under 8 (APGAR—or American Pediatric Gross Assessment Record—is a measure of newborn responsiveness. Scores of less than 8 predict an increase in the need for respiratory support).
December 1, 2014 – Range Resources Inc. warned supervisors in Pennsylvania’s Donegal Township that a “big burn” natural gas flare will continue for as long as a week and “will produce a continuous noise of as much as 95 decibels at the well pad. Sustained decibel levels between 90 and 95 can result in permanent hearing loss, but workers will be equipped with ear protection.” Township supervisor Doug Teagarden expressed concern for residents, saying, “They told us the flare would be double the size of other well flares, and the noise will be like a siren on a firetruck …. There are houses within a couple of hundred yards of the well pad, and those folks are going to hear it.
November 6, 2014 –Sakthi Karunanithi, Director of Public Health in Lancashire, UK, reported on a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of the two proposed shale gas exploration sites in Lancashire. Karunanithi’s study determined that key risks to the health and wellbeing of the residents who live near the two proposed sites in Lancashire include stress and anxiety from uncertainty that could lead to “poor mental wellbeing,” and noise-related health effects due to continuous drilling. The HIA also noted a lack of public trust and confidence.
September 2014 – The Ohio Shale Country Listening Project, a collaborative effort to solicit, summarize, and share the perspectives and observations of those directly experiencing the shale gas build out in eastern Ohio, found that the more shale gas wells a community has, the less popular the oil and gas industry becomes. Many residents reported that they had not experienced the economic benefits promised by the oil and gas industry. They complained of increased rents and costs of gas and groceries, an influx of out-of-state workers, more vehicular accidents, road destruction from large trucks, and damaged landscape and cropland. Locals reported feeling less secure and more financially strapped.
February 24, 2014 – In a review of the health effects from unconventional gas extraction published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, leading researchers noted, “Noise exposure is a significant hazard due to the presence of multiple sources, including heavy equipment, compressors, and diesel powered generators. Loud continuous noise has health effects in working populations. It is likely that exposure to noise is substantial for many workers, and this is potentially important for health because drilling and servicing operations are exempt from some sections of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration noise standard.” They noted that research should investigate stressors such as noise and light in the context of drilling and fracking operations in order to understand the overall effect of chemical and physical stressors together.
Overview of risk and advice on Precaution
Reviews on Environmental Health Dec 2014 discuss risks and monitoring needs for the effects of air and other environmental pollution associated with enegy extraction.
Unconventional oil and gas (UOG) operations have the potential to increase air and water pollution in communities located near UOG operations. Every stage of UOG operation from well construction to extraction, operations, transportation, and distribution can lead to air and water contamination. Hundreds of chemicals are associated with the process of unconventional oil and natural gas production. In this work, we review the scientific literature providing evidence that adult and early life exposure to chemicals associated with UOG operations can result in adverse reproductive health and developmental effects in humans. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) [including benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylene (BTEX) and formaldehyde] and heavy metals (including arsenic, cadmium and lead) are just a few of the known contributors to reduced air and water quality that pose a threat to human developmental and reproductive health. The developing fetus is particularly sensitive to environmental factors, which include air and water pollution. Research shows that there are critical windows of vulnerability during prenatal and early postnatal development, during which chemical exposures can cause potentially permanent damage to the growing embryo and fetus. Many of the air and water pollutants found near UOG operation sites are recognized as being developmental and reproductive toxicants; therefore there is a compelling need to increase our knowledge of the potential health consequences for adults, infants, and children from these chemicals through rapid and thorough health research investigation.
Exposure to chemical pollution can be linked to reproductive and developmental health impacts including infertility, miscarriage or spontaneous abortion, impaired fetal growth, and LBW. Given that many of the air and water pollutants found near UOG sites are recognized as being developmental and reproductive toxicants, there is a compelling need to increase our knowledge of the potential health consequences for infants, children, and adults from these chemicals through rapid and thorough further health research investigation. Chemicals used and produced in UOG operations are associated with human health effects and demonstrated to cause reproductive and developmental damage in laboratory animals. Whereas environmental human and animal monitoring is needed to measure actual exposure (170), we know enough to know the following:
1 There has been and continues to be a dramatic expansion of UOG operations.
2 Spills, leaks and discharges of UOG wastewater are common.
3 UOG chemicals have been measured in air and water near operations.
4 UOG chemicals have been directly linked with adverse reproductive and developmental health outcomes in laboratory studies.
5 UOG chemicals have been associated with adverse human reproductive and developmental health outcomes in epidemiological studies.
Taken together, there is an urgent need for the following: 1) biomonitoring of human, domestic and wild animals for these chemicals; and 2) systematic and comprehensive epidemiological studies to examine the potential for human harm.
MEDACT review of Public Health England’s reassurance on the risks of fracking. MEDACT is a group of Concerned doctors in the UK. The claim of PHE that fracking is safe if properly practised and regulated cannot be substantiated on the basis of the available evidence which is inadequate and incomplete… Given the risks associated with fracking and the knowledge that the regulatory system is inadequate and under-resourced, the ‘precautionary principle’ points clearly to the need to reject the applications for exploratory fracking. Fracking is an inherently risky activity. Environmental pollution (air as well as ground and surface water) will occur at all stages of the shale gas extraction process. Outdoor air pollutants include volatile organic compounds, tropospheric ozone, and diesel particulate matter. Pollutants in ground and surface water include benzene, hydrocarbons, heavy metals and naturally occurring radioactive material. While some pollutants are known to have toxic and harmful properties, many have not been adequately studied while others have not been studied at all.
Effects on Society
September 11, 2014 – An editor for the Washington Post examined jobs and manufacturing data in Youngstown, Ohio, to demonstrate that drilling and fracking are not resulting in a revitalization of the Rust Belt as some proponents and a prominent New York Times story asserted. The Post determined that in Youngstown, Ohio, the manufacturing sector has lost jobs by the tens of thousands in the last twenty years and the oil and gas industry has created approximately two thousand jobs since the recession ended. Six years ago, there were 13,000 more jobs in the Youngstown metro area than there were this past summer.
September 6, 2014 – In Williams County, North Dakota, in the Bakken shale, increases in crime have corresponded with the flow of oil. The infusion of cash has attracted career criminals who deal in drugs, violence and human sex trafficking. The Williston Herald portrayed, in a “reader’s discretion advised” article, the rapid rise of “index crimes”—“violent crimes that result in the immediate loss of an individual’s property, health or safety, such as murder, larceny and rape.” With fewer than 100 law enforcement personnel, “[c]rime in Williams County has risen in kind with the county’s population, but funding, staffing and support training for law enforcement has not.
September, 2014 – An article in the magazine Governing: The States and Localities described the social, environmental, health and safety, and economic burdens endured by localities from fracking. “In addition, fracking, in many cases, negatively impacts property values, which in turn depresses property tax revenue. For property owners who own the rights to the oil and gas on their land, the effects of drilling can be offset by royalty payments. But localities have no revenue offset if properties lose value
May 5, 2014 – An Associated Press analysis found that traffic fatalities have spiked in heavily drilled areas of six states whereas most other roads in the nation have become safer even as population has grown. In North Dakota drilling counties, for instance, traffic fatalities have increased 350 percent.
April 2014 – A report by the Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative, “Assessing the Impacts of Shale Drilling: Four Community Case Studies,” documented economic, community, government and human services impact of fracking on four rural communities. The study found that fracking led to a rapid influx of out-of-state workers and, although some new jobs were created, these were accompanied by additional costs for police, emergency services, road damage, and social services. In addition, increased rents, and a shortage of affordable housing accompanied the fracking boom. Unemployment rose after one county’s “boom” ended and, in another county, stayed above the state average throughout.
February 15, 2014 – The Los Angeles Times detailed steep increases in crime that have accompanied fracking in parts of the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas, including sexual assaults and thefts.
November 21, 2013 – The Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative released a six-state collaborative report demonstrating that the oil and gas industry has greatly exaggerated the number of jobs created by drilling and fracking in shale formations. The report found that far from the industry’s claims of 31 direct jobs created per well, only four jobs are created for each well. It also demonstrated that almost all of the hundreds of thousands of ‘ancillary’ jobs that the drilling industry claims are related to shale drilling existed before such drilling occurred. As Frank Mauro, executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute put it, “Industry supporters have exaggerated the jobs impact in order to minimize or avoid altogether taxation, regulation, and even careful examination of shale drilling.
September 25, 2013 – A report found that fracking is linked to significant road damage, increased truck traffic, crime, and strain on municipal and social services. Data from the past ten years on the social costs of fracking including truck accidents, arrests, and higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases are all causes for alarm.
May 24, 2013 – Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Secretary Allen D. Biuhler, P.E., and Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Pawlowski said that gas drilling has led to increases in truck traffic, traffic violations, crime, demand for social services, and the number of miles of roads that are in need of repairs. They noted that drilling companies that committed to repairing roads have not kept pace with the roads they damage. Police Commissioner Pawlowski reported that 56 percent of 194 trucks checked were over the legal weight limit and 50 percent were also cited for safety violations.
May 4, 2013 – Pennsylvania’s Beaver County Times asked “What boom?” in pointing to Keystone Research Center data showing that the number of jobs numbers created by shale gas extraction do not add up to what the gas industry claims, noting that unemployment has increased and the state actually fell to 49th in the nation for job creation.
February, 2013 – A peer-reviewed analysis of industry-funded and independent studies on the economics of fracking found that it is unlikely that fracking will lead to long-term economic prosperity for communities. The analysis noted that shale gas development brings a number of negative externalities including the potential for water, air and land contamination; negative impacts on public health; wear and tear on roads and other infrastructure; and costs to communities due to increased demand for services such as police, fire departments, emergency responders, and hospitals.
October 26, 2011 – The Associated Press reported that areas with significant fracking activity, including Pennsylvania, Wyoming North Dakota and Texas, are “seeing a sharp increase in drunken driving, bar fights and other hell-raising
September 7, 2011 – The NYS DEC estimated that 77 percent of the workforce on initial shale gas drilling projects would consist of transient workers from out of state. Not until the thirtieth year of shale gas development would 90 percent of the workforce be comprised of New York residents.
August 15, 2011 – The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that increases in crime followed the Pennsylvania gas drilling boom, noting, for instance, that drunken driving arrests in Bradford County were up 60 percent, DUI arrests were up 50 percent in Towanda, and criminal sentencing was up 35 percent in 2010
July 26, 2011 – A New York State Department of Transportation document estimated that fracking in New York could result in the need for road repairs and reconstruction costing $211 million to $378 million each year
November 30, 2010 – The Dallas Morning News featured a story, “Drilling Can Dig into Land Value,” reporting that the Wise County Central Appraisal District Appraisal Review Board found that a drilling company had caused an “extraordinary reduction” in property value, by 75 percent.
The group go doctors who make up MEDACT reflected that the Public Helath England report for too narrowly focussed and did not look at the wider concerns about fracking. More research must be done and wider impacts of the industry must be studies before we can say the process is safe. In the meantime the precautionary principle should be employed.
Sandra Steingraber, Ithaca university biologist and author who co-founded New Yorkers Against Fracking:
We began in [scientific] ignorance in 2008 when there were just six studies into the health effects of fracking. Now there are 412. Over 70% of all the available peer-reviewed papers have been published in the past two years, with a current average of one paper published each day; 87% of original research studies indicate potential risks or adverse health outcomes; 95% indicate elevated concentrations of air pollutants, and 72% of water studies indicate potential or actual incidence of contamination. It became very clear to health professionals and scientists that scientific studies of the environmental and health dangers … had begun to emerge in a substantial way. Their findings were alarming, showing health and environmental impacts and leaving unanswered questions about the extent of even further risks.
As a public health biologist, I [now] see fracking as the most dangerous industrial practice that I have ever seen. The new data clearly show that fracking… cannot be made safe through any regulatory framework. In densely-populated regions, like the UK and New York, public health consequences are unavoidable. Prevention of public health impacts are not possible as long as drilling and fracking operations pour carcinogenic benzene into the air. Old wells leak. New wells leak methane and benzene. And these leaks cannot be fixed fast enough to compensate for the increasing numbers of wells that must continuously be brought on line to take the place of depleted wells – which themselves go on leaking into retirement and beyond.
A review of the health risks of fracking and a reflection on the exponential increase in scientific evidence. Most of the recent papers outline risks that have yet to be fully studied. We should wait before allowing extension of fracking.
Expert Adviser to EU Commission on Best ….. Management of Tailings and Waste Rock. Lancet 2014
Comments that only one of the ten recommendations from the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering made in 2012 regarding Shale Gas extraction had been implemented. Others have been ignored or the opposite put in place. Reccomends no further gas extraction until serious inverstigation is completed into the health risks of fracking in the USA. He states that strict regulation and monitoring required but no body exists to do that.
Although notable bodies have advised on the basis for regulation there has been no government action and currently no onshore framework for fracking inland. Companies are being given permission to frack before any regulatory body is set up, guidelines established and companies geared up to observe the restrictions. There is no adequate body for monitoring or prosecuting the companies.
A review of the reccomendations and the actions made on each item. It may help to recall that DECC has the benefit of many members seconded from and paid by the gas companies. This gives an insight into the usefullness of the regualtion and supervision of fracking.
The response from DECC on the recommendation.
Efforts to identify alternative sources of energy have focused on extracting natural gas from vast shale deposits. The Marcellus Shale, located in western New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, is estimated to contain enough natural gas to supply the United States for the next 45 years.
New drilling technology—horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing of shale (fracking)—has made gas extraction much more economically feasible. However, this technique poses a threat to the environment and to the public’s health. There is evidence that many of the chemicals used in fracking can damage the lungs, liver, kidneys, blood, and brain.
We discuss the controversial technique of fracking and raise the issue of how to balance the need for energy with the protection of the public’s health.
American Journal of Public Health review of the industry and the risks. The precautionary principle advised.
An Australian review of available studies (many from USA) looking at fracking chemicals and environmental risks. A comprehensive and readable review.
Chemicals used in Fracking This is a comprehensive list of chemical and the toxic effects that might be relevant. Probably only for the dedicated as no readable text.
August 5, 2014 – Michelle Bamberger, a veterinarian and researcher, and Robert Oswald, a professor of molecular medicine at Cornell University, published a book that describes their research into the impacts of drilling and fracking on agriculture and animal health. They detail results of 24 case studies from six gas drilling states, including follow-up on cases they previously published in the peer-reviewed literature, raising numerous concerns about the effects of drilling and fracking on agriculture and the health of animals.
These experiences include the loss of calves and the imposition of a herd quarantine due to a wastewater spill, bulls and Newfoundland dogs with ongoing reproductive problems, and horses on steroids due to respiratory problems. The authors meet children with elevated arsenic levels, adults experiencing dramatic weight loss, and whole families suffering from “shale gas syndrome” (their name for the combination of burning eyes, sore throat, headaches, nosebleeds, vomiting, diarrhea, and skin rashes often experienced by the people in their case studies). Some residents cannot enter their homes without becoming seriously ill and others have lost their animal breeding or farming-based livelihoods.