The Federal Government Should Regulate Fracking

3310 words - 13 pages

An individual’s environment plays a pivotal role in their overall health. The environment can affect a range of physical and mental processes, and is considered a defining factor of well-being. As a result, specific geographic areas are instrumental in shaping an individual’s health profile. This is clearly seen in the disparity between those living in areas exposed to toxic substances, versus individuals living in clean environments. Individuals in unpolluted environments experience the advantage of a body system free from the barrage of chemical assault. Unfortunately, people who live near toxic wastes or byproducts of industry, have a body that is in constant defense of attack. This natural defense mechanism can prove draining to the human body and endocrine disruption can result. A current example that highlights this topic involves the use of hydraulic fracking in several areas of the U.S. Previous epidemiologic research have indicated problems with endocrine disruption of exposed individuals living in geographic proximity to fracking. This is a serious health concern for these people, and it can ultimately put them at a health disadvantage due to their environment.

A working knowledge of hydraulic fracking is imperative towards understanding the mechanism behind endocrine disruption in the exposed populations. Hydraulic fracking or hydrofracking is a highly controversial and charged topic. It has a lengthy list of supporters, as well as vehement opponents. Fracking has provided economic opportunity and security for many individuals, and at the same time cost in terms of environmental impact. Although the flurry around this topic seems fairly new, the actual process is quite dated. Fracking has been around since the 1940s, but the harmful effects of the process are relatively modern discoveries (Palliser, 2012). The actual technique involves “pumping a slurry of water, sand and chemicals underground to fracture shale formations and release hydrocarbons” ("Fracking", 2013, p. 276). Modern procedures use a high degree of manipulation in order to extract the natural gas. The natural gas from fracking is dispersed in rock, and can only be retrieved by using specialized removal techniques (Palliser, 2012). These specialized techniques have many unintended consequences. For instance, the current method of fracking may cause the issue of flowback. Flowback occurs when the internal pressure of the rock formation causes the injected watery, chemical mixture to return to the surface with other naturally occurring substances (Palliser, 2012). This flowback is often injected back underground or can be processed by wastewater treatment plants, where it is later discharged as surface water (Palliser, 2012). Indisputably, the disposal and generation of flowback is one of the main concerns regarding hydraulic fracking. The wastewater developed from fracking procedures is often inappropriately handled and is sometimes sprayed onto rural...

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