Chemistry in the News: Congress Releases Report on Toxic Chemicals Used in Fracking
Fracking or hydraulic fracturing is a natural gas extraction technique to remove gas from beneath the Earth’s surface. Hydraulic fracturing is a type of well drilling where the drilling does not stop until the drillers penetrate the shale layer where the natural gas and oil reside. The public has become increasingly concerned with chemical leakage into aquifers, rivers and streams causing public water systems to become polluted as a result of fracking. Although the natural gas and oil industry negates any chemical leakage into public water sources, scientists have identified known carcinogens and volatile organic compounds like benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylene in public water systems and private wells near hydraulic fracturing cites. Toxic chemicals can be leaked by derrick, well casting failure, fractured shale and surface contamination. According to this article, the Energy and Commerce Committee reports findings to include:
· The Fracking companies use for than 2500 hydraulic fracturing products containing 750 different chemicals
· Components used include toxic substances such as benzene and lead
· Oil and gas service companies used hydraulic fracturing products containing 29 Chemicals that are known or possible human carcinogens
· Methanol was used in 342 hydraulic fracturing products and was widely used between 2005 and 2009
· Many hydraulic fracturing fluids containing chemical components were listed as “proprietary” suggesting that either chemicals are unknown or known but undisclosed for a reason
This article is notable because of the possible damage that we as a society may be inflicting on our own resources. We may be making our own living resources more toxic. Possibly the most troubling issue is that because the chemicals used in the fracking process (which has little to no oversight) is not disclosed to the public, any harmful effects of wastewater is unknown. Luckily, in North Carolina we are not as affected by such intense drilling, however it is important to note that the toxins compromise peoples’ health and potentially cause environmental contamination. The best approach is to require natural and gas companies to disclose all chemicals used in their practice for chemist and scientist to research potential health risks.
Kimball, Jay. "Congress Releases Report on Toxic Chemicals Used In Fracking." 8020 Vision RSS. N.p., 17 Apr. 2011. Web. 29 Sept. 2013.