One of the most serious criticisms against hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, is that the fluids blown into the shale formation are a concoction of dangerous chemicals. During the fracking process, these chemicals are blown into the shale formation along with hot water to blast open the rock and release the natural gas.
Many fracking chemical fluids are known to be toxic and in some cases can result in serious fracking injuries, such as cancer. Although the exact chemicals used in fracking are considering a trade secret, Frackcident speculations that dangerous chemicals used in fracking may potentially include petroleum distillates such as kerosene and diesel fuel (which contain benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene, naphthalene and other chemicals); polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; methanol; formaldehyde; ethylene glycol; glycol ethers; hydrochloric acid; and sodium hydroxide. Other chemicals used in fracking include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which have been shown to be present in the flowback wastes at high levels that exceed the drinking water standards.
In addition to drinking water concerns, fracking could have an impact on the air quality of residents living within close proximity to fracking sites.
A July 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggests that Asthma exacerbation may be among the potential injuries caused by fracking.
The study found that asthma patients living near Pennsylvania fracking developments were up to four times more likely to experience an asthma attack, according to USA Today.
Asthma exacerbation was classified into three categories:
- Mild-needing medication
- Moderate-needing an emergency room visit
- Severe-needing hospitalization
Patients living close to multiple or bigger natural gas wells were at a higher risk of asthma exacerbation at all three stages, suggests lead study author, Sara Rasmussen.
Researchers also found that the risks for all categories were present during all four stages of well development: pad preparation, drilling stimulation, fracturing and production.
Because the actual impact of fracking on human health is still unknown, reporting fracking injuries is vital.