Human Health and Hydraulic Fracturing
Current research, in the field of public health, is looking at the adverse health effects of hydraulic fracturing on community members. This research is focused on looking for evidence-based research in processes, procedures, materials and cleanup from drilling and running a well. In recent years, several states such as Maryland and New York, have called for special advisory commissions to examine the potential adverse health implications for the community if the moratoriums are lifted and fracturing is allowed to start. A lot of the previous research conducted focused on the anecdotal perspective of the adverse health effects. This perspective does not offer scientific verification that the fracturing processes are causing them or evidence where the contaminations are coming from.
Contamination from the Hydraulic Fracturing Process
There are many potential adverse health impacts caused by the chemicals used at the drilling site, which are later often unintentional released into the environment. These chemicals are hazardous and as Witter et. al. (2008) state “some of the chemicals used in this process are brought to the surface, potentially contaminating soil, air, and water, while some of the chemicals are left underground, potentially subsurface aquifers” (4). This makes it difficult to track which chemicals are causing effects and where they are coming from. Another piece to the puzzle is that the drilling companies do not disclose the full-list of chemicals so there is a great mystery in what chemicals and what concentrations are used in the process (Lauver 2012:383). However, recently there researchers have begun to breakdown the chemical identities and concentrations.
There is a diverse assortment of chemicals used in the hydraulic fluid. In this fluid, there can be “fresh or salt water-based muds, oil-based muds or synthetic materials that contain esters, olefins, paraffins, ethers, and alkulbezenes among others” (Witter et. al. 2008:4) as well as “additives such as metals, acrylic polymers, organic polymers, surfactants and biocides” (Witter et. al 2008:4). Many of the chemical names that have been identified are also commonly found and used in household products such as tooth-paste, salad-dressing, ice cream, which eludes to the public that they are safe (Lauver 2012:384). However, even in small doses these chemicals can have disastrous side effects for those who come into direct or indirect contact with them.
Chemicals like hydrogen sulfide, H2S, and methylene chloride are examples of known components to the fluid. Other known chemicals include: isopropyl alcohol, naphthalene (component of mothballs), toluene (a solvent), ethylene glycol (component of antifreeze), 2,2-Dibromo-3-Nitrilopropionide (pesticide), glutaraldehyde (Lauver 2012: 384). For many known chemicals, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, better known as OSHA, lists descriptions and risks to exposure to the...