Study Finds Fracking Causing Contamination Of Chemicals Linked To Birth Defects And Other Harms To Human

220px-Process_of_mixing_water_with_fracking_fluids_to_be_injected_into_the_groundEnvironmentalists have been fighting the expanding use of fracking operations in the United States as a harmful practice, particularly for water contamination. The practice involves injecting millions of gallons of chemical-laced water and sand deep underground to crack shale formations to extract oil and gas. Not only does it use a huge amount of water in areas of water shortage but the chemicals contaminate both surface and underground water resources. Now a study in the journal Endocrinology has found a linkage to chemicals that have been linked to infertility, birth defects and cancer as well as elevated levels of the hormone-disrupting chemicals in the Colorado River.

The danger to people in these areas has been routinely denied by the oil and gas lobby as well as members of Congress and state legislators who have advanced the interests of the fracking industry. Worse yet, some current laws exempt fracking from protections for safe drinking water and energy companies do not have to disclose the chemicals they use if they consider that information a trade secret.

The team in the study tested for endocrine-disrupting chemicals and found that, out of 39 water samples collected at five drilling sites, 89% showed estrogenic properties, 41% were anti-estrogenic, 12% were androgenic and 46% were anti-androgenic. The chemical found in the sample can interfere with human sex hormones.

The response from the industry was predictable. Katie Brown, a spokeswoman with the industry advocacy group Energy In Depth, dismissed the study as “inflammatory.” With a study showing a danger to people and birth defects, the industry and its lobbyists respond with a shrug and a dismissive comment. Politicians are also conspicuously silent. These same politicians celebrate “family values” but it appears that birth defects in families does not fall within the scope of such concerns.

There may be counter-arguments to be made to these concerns but what concerns me is the success of this lobby in cutting off this debate. I would like to see a substantive response to this report, but I fear that we are not going to have a full public debate on the risks of this expanding form of extraction.

Source: LA Times

65 thoughts on “Study Finds Fracking Causing Contamination Of Chemicals Linked To Birth Defects And Other Harms To Human”

  1. New lyrics for ‘Hotel California:

    Gasland, California

    Welcoming you to Gasland, California

    Here’s a Fracking Well (There’s a Fracking Well)
    What a Fracking Hell
    They’re Frackin’ It Up in The Gasland, California
    Here they acidize (There they Acidize)
    They are full of lies

    Helpless is the feeling
    When they turn on the device
    They say : “We want to start frackin right here,
    Name your selling price.”

    Out there in the distance,
    You can hear their fracking beast,
    They will steal your drinking water,
    As the methane is released

    One Day in September,
    He was Knocking at my door,
    “We are set to start fracking in here
    and we’ll pay you even more.”

    “Sign Here” said the Frack-man,”
    We’re gonna Drill here when you leave.”
    “You can cash-out & let us take your land,
    But you may never speak!”

    Welcome, everyone, to Gasland, California.

  2. Nick,

    I don’t know if you’re still following this thread, but air borne sand particles, in the form of fine particulate silica, is extremely hazardous, and causes the particularly nasty lung disease, silicosis. Silica is more hazardous than asbestos; there’s no hype attached to its dangers, yet little mention is made anywhere in the media. Next you see someone cutting concrete, you might want to hold your breath til your clear of the dustcloud.

    My brother-in-law works as an operating engineer in a mine up near Toma, and while I’m happy to see him get the work, I think fracking is one of the worst practices committed against a nation during peacetime.

    Randyjet claims that these extraction companies have an economic incentive to use water resources and chemicals wisely, which presumably would mean safely. Experience has shown that this is almost never the case, Everyplace fracking has been conducted, damage has resulted to he environment and human health and safety. Cleanup and treatments costs are a form of unimposed costs to these companies, therefore they have no incentive to pay for the extra labor and equipment, let alone the testing and research, necessary for ensuring safe operating procedures.

    Between fracking and tar sands, I don’t think there can be any clearer indication that peak oil has been long since passed, by twenty years, perhaps. I think it’s only a matter of before the EPA is forbidden from studying the problems caused by fracking on the grounds that it ‘s a violation of national security.

    BTW, RandyJet. Good luck with defending your property “by any means necessary.” Be sure to have your next of kin tell us how that worked out for you.

  3. Arthur, I posted the Mother Jones article mainly for the picture. Self made Texas millionaire builds dream home. Oil company put pad down on adjoining property and horizontally fracked right under his property. That hose could be lit anytime day or night. Has to pay for water by the tanker because none of his water is safe to drink or bathe in.

    Leaked documents and power point presentations are some of Josh Fox’s sources. Fracking has been used since the 1940s but the horizontal aspect is new. After first watching GASLAND I typed “Fracking” into the NY Times search engine and all that was there was advertisements for fracking. Now there are a couple of hundred. ProPublica has about 2,000. Almost all of them have a tool to find out where your state sits as far as the number of wells and regulators.

    bettykath, that is a good article. I especially liked this: “The first step is caring enough to educate yourself and then be willing to take the time, effort and expense to help educate family, friends and neighbors. Democracy is messy, and it never works when people allow somebody else to carry their water for them. People must get involved on a personal level because this issue is too critically important to leave to chance – or to the fossil fuel industry. If you cannot do things yourself, then provide some financial support to those who are trying to make a difference, and help spread their message. Doing nothing is not an option.”

    I would highly recommend GASLAND 2, especially if you’ve seen GASLAND 1.

  4. Any bets… on the time we have left before we turn this planet into a completely uninhabitable place? I would estimate, maybe another hundred years… Then we’ll pass into obscurity…. like 99% of the species before us. The only difference… The ‘scar’ we leave on the planet will take a little longer to heal

  5. A long time ago owners of companies, including stockholders, could be charged and jailed for the kinds of behavior we now see rampant in so many companies that use the fines as just a cost of doing business. ExxonMobil was directed to pay a huge fine, appealed and got the fine drastically reduced. Whatever they pay, including legal fees, are all tax deductible.

    I listened to an Alternative Radio program yesterday where Paul Cienfuegos spoke about Community Rights, a grassroots movement where communities are passing laws to keep out bad actors. His speech is available here

    He posits that the only way to curb corporate excesses is by passing laws, community by community, that certain corporate/development behaviors are illegal. Making enough fuss that the corporations just go elsewhere or wait it out really isn’t enough. In NYS we have a moratorium on fracking, the process that poisons are ground water and well water, that is causing earthquakes in OK and probably elsewhere. Once the moratorium lapses, the companies will be ready. We really need to have been insisting on a law that would make this activity illegal. I think the moratorium slowed the anti-fracking movement, to the corporate advantage. We should have been pressing hard for a law.

    And how a group of environmentalists in Dallas did just that:

    “It is important to remember that mankind lived without the commercial production of oil and gas for about 200,000-400,000 years until around 1859, but no living thing on this planet can survive without an abundance of clean water and clean air. There are no substitutes.”

    But even with their strict zoning their water supply is in danger b/c they get their water from surrounding lakes and reservoirs.

  6. A direct link has also been found to Oil-Qaeda’s virtual destruction of much of the life in the Gulf of Mexico, especially dolphins:

    US government scientists have for the first time connected the BP oil disaster to dolphin deaths in the Gulf of Mexico, in a study finding direct evidence of toxic exposure.

    The study, led by scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, found lung disease, hormonal abnormalities and other health effects among dolphins in an area heavily oiled during the BP spill.


  7. Arthur,

    “Yet the GOP suffered no loss of support among the rednecks of East Texas who were the very ones whose throats were being cut.”

    I could not have said this better myself. I do not understand what is wrong with these people, are they really this stupid or are they brainwashed? They support policy that keeps them poor, takes away their rights, ruins the environment, and keeps the oil companies rich. It’s pathetic and extremely frustrating.

    1. Kim, The problem is not that those people are stupid any more than this outlandish attorney is stupid. He had to have some intelligence to pass the bar exam. It is that social group pressures and identity mean more than rational thinking. The Texas voters who vote for the GOP while getting screwed by them, do so because they have a stronger group ID as whites. THAT is the prime reason for this.

      There is a similar thing on the Democratic side as well especially for Latinos, though they have more intellect in voting compared to rednecks in that they are not as monolithic as rednecks. The immigration issue is one of those which the Latino elites try and use group think to fight against rational solutions to the illegals problem. There is collusion on the part of the professional La Raza types with the conservative big money men like Robert Perry who depend on cheap illegal labor. So they both hate the idea of a mandatory E-Verify law and SecureComm programs since they BOTH profit from illegal labor. I lived in the Valley and work here, and wages are driven down by the massive numbers of illegal workers who commute to their jobs in the US every day. My former next door neighbor was a legal Mexican immigrant who was a skilled auto mechanic, but he only earned $8/hr because most of the mechanics in his shop were Mexican citizens working here illegally. The owner of his shop was a big shot in the Democratic party locally and he profited from that cheap labor. Yet the voters will support those who fight to keep their wages down.

      The solution can only come about when the voters have alternate views presented in a common sense way. Once that happens, and is presented by people who are similar in group status, then we can see some changes.

  8. This is just another example of the oil companies getting richer and richer at the expense of the environment and the health and habitat of every creature on this planet.

    Don’t blame the president, he is not the one who runs this country. The people who own the oil companies run this country (the elite, the 1%, the U.S. oligarchy). So, if you want to blame anyone – blame them. Their greed is driving the human race into extinction.

  9. I can’t wait until the earth runs out of fossil fuels. Sure, the economy will collapse and most everyone will die, but at least the raping of the earth will finally be over.

    The elite 1% will be the only ones left on the planet. They won’t have us poor folk to do all the work for them anymore and they will have to start wiping their own a$$es.

  10. randyjet, it’s funny that you should say ” If I were one of the victims of getting gas out of their water wells, I would start bottling the gas and start pumping out the gas at a faster rate than the oil companies can get theirs out. Let’s see how fast they react to that problem. There is always more than one way to skin that cat.” In the movie GASLAND 2 there was an old boy from Pavillion that pondered doing just that. Then he said “They’d probably put me in jail for that.” And they probably would.

    Randy, if the EPA and Energy Depts. were not bought and paid for it would make it a lot easier. This guy in the picture is from Texas:

    1. Pat, While I am not an attorney, I do know something about mineral laws since I have a water well. A landowner is allowed to have wells that take buried groundwater for the owners use. I don’t know the exact depth limit, but if one of those wells starts producing gas because of fracking, I doubt that it is illegal to use or sell that gas. Of course, if this happens on too large a scale, two things will happen. The gas producers will fix the problem, or if they think it is too expensive in their eyes, they will have the GOP simply TAKE the property away from the landowners and put them in jail.

      I read the MJ article and while most of it good, there are lot of irrational statements in it. The most egregious is the projection of over half of all wells will leak or fail in a 30 year period. Since this technology has not been around that long, it is NOT based on any data. Likewise the projection on methane releases is not nailed down as to the sources. They are doing more studies to get the answers as Scientific American pointed out.

      I AM encouraged by the public activity that is resulting from this subject. That is probably the best thing about this subject. It is the indifference, and ignorance on the part of the public that keeps the GOP in power in Texas. A prime example is the re-election of Guv Perry. The Texas GOP pushed for and passed a constitutional amendment to keep landowners safe from governmental taking of property by eminent domain for private interests. Yet they voted for the prime mover of the TransTexas Corridor who was the very same Rick Perry! Then when the TransTexas pipeline needed to take private land to keep the pipeline as cheap as possible for the shale oil project, it was the GOP officeholders who simply SPIT on and ignored the very amendment that they had supported! The pipeline company needed the land, so they TOOK IT! The judges simply ignored the law, and did the companies bidding, as did the Railroad Commission. Yet the GOP suffered no loss of support among the rednecks of East Texas who were the very ones whose throats were being cut.

  11. Bayou Corne/Grand Bayou Sinkhole

    On May 31, 2012, parish officials were notified of areas of bubbling spots in the Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou waterways. Early on, it was determined that the bubbling was caused by a release of natural gas and not “swamp gas”. Monitoring for carbon monoxide, H2Sm and Lower Explosive Levels (LEL) at the bubbling spots began on June 22, 2012. During this monitoring, no dangerous levels were detected. Residents within the community experienced and reported tremors and the parish requested the assistance of USGS in determining the locations and probable cause(s) for this seismic activity. USGS immediately detected seismic activity through their monitors and began recording this data; however, no probable cause was able to be detected.

    Early in the morning on Friday, August 3, 2012, Assumption Parish Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness Director John Boudreaux was notified by local industry that a sinkhole had formed overnight in the swamp in the area. The hole was discovered after a strong diesel smell was experienced in the proximity of the sinkhole. On that same day, parish officials called for a mandatory evacuation of residents in the community and parish officials requested the assistance of state agencies in the activities involved in this emergency.

    updated activity HERE

  12. All I know is this…
    … I have yet to see a sun farm lay waste to any community due to a busted pipe line or any tidal generator poison a Gulf of Mexico for our grand children’s lifetime.

    Just saying…

  13. When Tobacco becomes Petrochemical:

    “Smoking doesn’t cause cancer” becomes…
    … “Burning fossil fuels doesn’t cause global climate change.”

    Rhymes with Smokey Joe

  14. Dredd,
    Love ya.

    Family Values is about, “THE second wife/husband… and working out shared custody of the kids.” Or in Newt’s case, the third wife and… wait, kids?

  15. Humanity is headlong into extinction…
    … The next generation will be forced to suffer our gluttony.

    Their progeny will be cursed with our memories…

  16. randyjet, ask the people in Dimock Pennsylvania and Pavillion Wyoming how they feel about the EPA and Energy Departments “making the call on what and where and how this should be done.” Better yet watch GASLAND 2 and see Dish Texas.

    1. Pat I am perfectly aware of the screw-ups of oil companies since I worked in the industry for almost 15 years. If I were one of the victims of getting gas out of their water wells, I would start bottling the gas and start pumping out the gas at a faster rate than the oil companies can get theirs out. Let’s see how fast they react to that problem. There is always more than one way to skin that cat.

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