Family Health Risks

Is fracking a toxic risk to my family’s health?

Yes. While the industry and its politicians have stifled governement health studies, peer reviewed studies by top researchers at such prestigious universities as Cornell, Princeton, MIT, Columbia, the University of Missouri, and the University of Colorado have found higher levels of fracking-related chemicals near well sites, chemicals which are known to cause cancer, disrupt the human endocrine system, and cause neurologic and other disorders. Researchers have connected fracking operations with birth defects and both lowered infant birth weight and lower APGAR scores.

Some specifics, along with the distances from well sites where affects were still measurable (scroll down to “Health Risks” for more details):

Increased risk of birth defects and childhood leukemia - < 10 miles

Elevated levels of more than 100 known or suspected endocrine-disrupting chemicals - distances unknown

Silicosis (from the sand composing 9.5% of fracking fluid) - distances unknown

66% increased cancer risk from airborne chemicals - < 1/2 mile

(Sources: / / McKenzie, Boulder County / NIH /

Health Risks

Birth defects: congenital heart and possible neural tube

< 10 miles

Journal “Environmental Health Perspectives” -

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals: Elevated levels of more than 100 known or suspected endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in surface and ground waters.

Distance Unknown

Journal “Endocrinology” -

Silicosis and other sand-related conditions: "84% of well sites exceeded OSHA’s new standards for allowable silica levels." OSHA has issued formal “Hazard Alert” for well workers.

Distance Unknown

Journal “Clinical Pulmonary Medicine”

Toxic air emissions: "Cumulative cancer risks measured at 6 in a million for residents over 1/2 mile from wells, increasing to 10 in a million for residents living 1/2 mile or closer to wells."

≤ 1/2 mile

Boulder County study -

Toxic Fracking Fluid: Only 353 of the 632 chemicals found in one study of fracking fluid are even "listed by the Chemical Abstract Service (CAS). Of those that are, over 75% could affect the skin, eyes, and other sensory organs, along with the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems. Approximately 40% to 50% could affect the brain/nervous system, immune and cardiovascular systems, and the kidneys; 37% could affect the endocrine system; and 25% could cause cancer and mutations." Long-term health effects from operations/transport/leaking/spilling/etc. may not manifest in the short term.

Distance Unknown

Journal “Human and Ecological Risk Assessment” -

Groundwater contamination: “...includes contamination through imperfectly installed or corroded well casings and cementing, spilled fracking fluid, leaked wastewater, or, less certain, the direct movement of methane or water upwards from deep underground. A single well can produce millions of gallons of waste water containing pollutants in concentrations far exceeding those considered safe for drinking water and for release into the environment. Pollutants can include formaldehyde, boric acid, methanol, hydrochloric acid, and isopropanol, damaging to the brain, eyes, skin, and nervous system on direct contact. Additional contamination is possible from naturally occurring salts, metals, and radioactive chemicals found deep underground, but brought up" with the flowback.

Distance Unknown

Center on Global Change, Duke University -

Methane Contamination of Drinking Water: PA study on active gas-extraction areas (one or more gas wells within 1 km): "methane concentrations in drinking-water wells increased with proximity to the nearest gas well, measuring an average of 19.2 mg/L, to a high of 64 mg/L, a potential explosion hazard; in contrast, dissolved methane samples in neighboring sites with similar geology but no gas wells within 1 km averaged only 1.1 mg/L."

PA Study: < 1 km

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences -

List of the Harmed

Pennsylvania citizens have put together a site collecting the self-reported health consequences to families living near fracking sites. While fracking operatives have tried to undermine the credibility of the website by placing a few phony reports and questioning others, these attempts have been mostly exposed, and in any event do not negate the apparently thousands of honest, heartfelt, and tragically sad reports by ordinary citizens.


© Harv 2014-2018