Toxins found in fracking fluids and wastewater, study shows

Toxins found in fracking fluids and wastewater, study shows
Credit: Pat Lynch / Yale University

In an analysis of more than 1,000 chemicals in fluids used in and created by hydraulic fracturing (fracking), Yale School of Public Health researchers found that many of the substances have been linked to reproductive and developmental health problems, and the majority had undetermined toxicity due to insufficient information.

Further exposure and epidemiological studies are urgently needed to evaluate potential threats to human health from chemicals found in fracking fluids and wastewater created by fracking, said the research team in their paper, published Jan. 6 in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental and Epidemiology.

The research team evaluated available data on 1,021 chemicals used in fracking, a process that recovers oil and from deep within the ground by using a mixture of fluids that can contain hundreds of chemicals. The process creates significant amounts of wastewater and fractures the bedrock, posing a potential threat to both surface water and underground aquifers that supply drinking water, note the researchers.

While they lacked definitive information on the toxicity of the majority of the chemicals, the team members analyzed 240 substances and concluded that 157 of them—chemicals such as arsenic, benzene, cadmium, lead, formaldehyde, chlorine, and mercury—were associated with either developmental or reproductive toxicity. Of these, 67 chemicals were of particular concern because they had an existing federal health-based standard or guideline, said the scientists, adding that data on whether levels of chemicals exceeded the guidelines were too limited to assess.

"This evaluation is a first step to prioritize the vast array of potential environmental contaminants from hydraulic fracturing for future exposure and health studies," said Nicole Deziel, senior author and assistant professor of . "Quantification of the potential exposure to these chemicals, such as by monitoring drinking water in people's homes, is vital for understanding the public health impact of hydraulic fracturing."

Some previous studies have observed associations between proximity to hydraulic fracturing sites and reproductive and developmental problems, but they did not investigate specific chemicals. This latest evaluation could inform the design of future studies by highlighting which chemicals could have the highest probability of health impact, note the researchers.

Fracking has increased dramatically in recent years and the practice is expected to grow in the future. It involves drilling into the earth—as deep as two miles—and releasing a high-pressure mixture of water, sand, and chemicals that fracture the rock and release the gas trapped inside. Fracking is now commonly used in the United States and has significantly boosted domestic natural gas production and driven down prices.

However, the practice may come with a significant public health consequences, warn critics of fracking, noting that the process has the potential to contaminate supplies with toxic chemicals. Air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and small earth tremors from the drilling and waste disposal processes are also cited as concerns.

"We focused on reproductive and developmental toxicity because these effects may be early indicators of environmental hazards. Gaps in our knowledge highlight the need to improve our understanding of the potential adverse effects associated with these compounds," said Elise Elliott, a public health doctoral student and the paper's first author.

The researchers determined that wastewater produced by fracking may be even more toxic than the fracking fluids themselves. This led the researchers to conclude that more focus is needed to study not just what goes into the well, but what chemicals and by-products are generated during the fracking process.


Explore further

Fracking plays active role in generating toxic metal wastewater, study finds

More information: Elise G Elliott et al. A systematic evaluation of chemicals in hydraulic-fracturing fluids and wastewater for reproductive and developmental toxicity, Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology (2016). DOI: 10.1038/jes.2015.81
Provided by Yale University
Citation: Toxins found in fracking fluids and wastewater, study shows (2016, January 7) retrieved 20 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-01-toxins-fracking-fluids-wastewater.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
246 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Jan 07, 2016
researchers found that many of the substances have been linked to reproductive and developmental health problems, and the majority had undetermined toxicity due to insufficient information.

But it makes money - so who cares? Not so different from this (reported here a few days ago):
http://phys.org/n...mob.html

But in the end: babies don't pay taxes. So screw 'em, right?

Jan 07, 2016
In related news

Toxins found in drinking water

"Most water contains arsenic, fluoride, chlorine and a host of other unhealthy toxins. So when we drink it we are actually imbibing water that contains a mixture of toxic, poisonous chemicals that spells danger and at the very least overburdening work for our colons."

-aa might want to stick to vodka and rainwater.


Jan 07, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Jan 07, 2016
Send Fritz some fracked water.

Jan 07, 2016
Send Fritz some fracked water.


Well I for one sure do wish everybody would follow your example and stick to discussing technical stuffs and science stuffs. For 16 months you been trying to set this sort of good example and nobody seems to be taking it in. Bunch of goobers.

Jan 07, 2016
What kind of job do you have? Weren't you supposed to be "working"? I think you are a ticket-taker in the theater.

Meanwhile, your fellow delta friends are ruining where you live, and you attack someone with a Master of Science in the Environment to help you out. But we cannot do it as long as your little ego is in the way.

Jan 07, 2016
What kind of job do you have? Weren't you supposed to be "working"? I think you are a ticket-taker in the theater.


You know what kind of job I have. It's not like back your days when somebody had to shovel coal into the furnaces. When things are humming along good, the machinery does the hard stuffs and I just to the watching until I need to change something.

and you attack someone with a Master of Science in the Environment


Except your Master of Science diploma doesn't have anything about the Environment on him. Or Engineering. Or anything else. It did not even come from the engineering school or science school part of the college.

to help you out.


Cher, I have tried to explain before. You are not helping my or your or whatever cause. You make the environmentalists look like they converted Sarah Palin.

But we cannot do it as long as,,,,,,


,,,, all you got is silly slogans and made up "facts" out of thin air.

Jan 07, 2016
No, I have the education and experience you resent.

Jan 07, 2016
No, I have the education and experience you resent.


That is why you are so easy. You think that other peoples just must be consumed with the same emotions you are. Peoples with mental conditions always think that, that is why they never learn anything from the negative feedbacks they get.

See, a normal well balance person would not just assume "resent". If you had something I wanted for my self, I would just go out and do it.

Just because I don't waste everybody's patience by telling them everything I done that makes the best or so great in life, does not mean I don't have experiences and education. I have education and a lot experiences. I am happy enough with them that I don't need to make sure some couyons on the interweb oooh and aaah. I am just Ira and like it that way.

You got nothing I do not have my self. But you got a lot things I do not want to have. (That would be the mental conditions that make you so grumpy and goofy on the physorg.)

Jan 07, 2016
No, Ira, read my responses. They were to specific fields in which I have experience. You did not believe it and said so rudely. So I proved it, all of it. And there is more you have yet to hear.

I discussed my experience at Edwards in a thread for hypersonic aircraft. You did not want to believe it, so I had to send you the front page of the newspaper for the entire Air Force Flight Test Center, with my name and picture on it. Shall I go on with the stuff regarding NASA? The NRC? PG&E? Igloo White? Power Quality?

Jan 07, 2016
Send Fritz some fracked water.
Send george some Haloperidol.
What kind of job do you have?
What kinds of jobs did you have and lose? Answer - those you were never qualified for.

Which was all of them wasnt it georgie?

Jan 07, 2016
FYI:

Anyone familiar with HISTORY of how many formal/expert disciplines came to BE, knows it was because of PIONEERS; INFORMAL PRACTITIONERS active in said fields BEFORE said fields became FORMALIZED 'expert disciplines' and TEACHING/PROMULGATION/CERTIFICATION of same was eventually established/administered by govt/professional bodies to set/maintain Safety/Proficiency standards. Ok?

It was people like gkam who actually DID IT ALL, usually as SPECIFIC-PROJECT SUPPORT/CONSULTANTS or EXPERIENCED PRACTITIONERS, that CREATED/INITIATED the SKILL SETS/PROCEDURES which became those FORMAL STANDARDS which apply today.

So, please stop disrespecting pioneers in fields that became better-informed/practised precisely BECAUSE such multi-talented/disciplinary PRACTITIONERS went from project to project when relevant fields/practices/knowledge/skill sets were in their INFANCY.

Hence why many EARLY experts HAD 'no official qualifications' and 'many jobs'. Ok?

So pls cool it, guys. :)

Jan 08, 2016
Too bad science is to politicized nowadays that you can't believe any 'science' that impacts any public policy. The blame lays squarely on activist scientist who have prostituted their calling for petty politics.

Jan 09, 2016
-methane volcano in cali
-mine tailing spill in colorado
-gulf coast oil spill
-toxic fracking juice

Anthropocene my ass. More like disaster scene.

Jan 09, 2016
Big Money is going to find things harder and harder to get by The People. With consumer and environmental laws, they will have to stop injuring others for their profits.

Now that corporations are "people", we can send their management groups to PRISON!

Jan 09, 2016
Big Money is going to find things harder and harder to get by The People. With consumer and environmental laws, they will have to stop injuring others for their profits.

Now that corporations are "people", we can send their management groups to PRISON!
Big money in t shirts with brainless 70s slogans on them I hear.

Jan 09, 2016
You are only revealing your own psychological state. Are you self-defeating on purpose, or punishing yourself for being you?

I can understand how self-loathing can lead to malice against others. Your continual references to psychopathy are a crude cry for help.


Jan 11, 2016
You are only revealing your own psychological state. Are you self-defeating on purpose, or punishing yourself for being you?

I can understand how self-loathing can lead to malice against others. Your continual references to psychopathy are a crude cry for help.
Psychopaths dont need help.

"The psychopath recognizes no flaw in his psyche, no need for change."
http://www.cassio...path.htm

-Only goobers and other such Untermenschen need help - right you sicko?

WHY are you still lying about your degree? You really think the people here are that STUPID??

Jan 11, 2016
Just folk like you, of course. All cowards are stupid in one way or another.

Your pleas for psychological help are shallow and transparent.

Jan 11, 2016
Just folk like you, of course. All cowards are stupid in one way or another.

Your pleas for psychological help are shallow and transparent.
Why are you too cowardly to admit you lied about your degree?

Jan 12, 2016
Let's make the families of the company executives drink it.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more