More On Fracking
I appreciated your excellent article by Elena Day on the many dangers associated with fracking. Ms. Day outlined some of the deep concerns associated with the process including the inappropriate exemptions from environmental legislation fracking companies enjoy. These exemptions were unjustified, present ongoing dangers to wildlife and human water supplies and should be restored. Oversight is a basic tenet of modern industrial life.
The article correctly stated that the chemicals used in the process of hydraulic fracturing are protected as trade secrets. However, this does not mean the chemicals in use are unknown. In fact 596 chemicals are used including, benzene, diethyl benzene, diemethyl pyridine, naphthalene, formaldehyde, ethyl-methyl disulfide, trimethyl benzene, methyl pyridine, tetraethyl benzene, carbon sulfide, and many more. Many of these compounds are extremely hazardous and at least one, formaldehyde, has been qualified as carcinogenic by the Center for Disease Control.
Additionally, the list of proprietary chemicals and toxins includes heavy metals—barium, mercury, chromium, arsenic and lead. According to the Center for Hazardous Substance Research, inorganic arsenic is a carcinogen that can cause cancer of the “skin, lungs, liver and bladder.” Low-level exposure can reduce white blood cells and damage blood vessels. Barium can lead to vomiting, cramps and difficulty breathing. In high doses both arsenic and barium can be fatal. Longterm low-level exposure to chromium can lead to liver damage and damage to nerve tissues. Lead is extremely toxic, building up in the body over time and leading to serious health issues, especially in children, including premature death.
Any of these chemicals leaching into water systems could cause longterm, perhaps irreversible consequences to human health and to ecosystems.