Report: Fracking chemicals threaten reproductive health
More extensive monitoring needed to protect public
FRISCO, Colo. — Public health experts today painted a vivid connect-the-dot picture of the risks associated with exposure to toxic fracking chemicals and called for more testing of people and animals in gas patch communities.
The in-depth review, which appeared in the journal “Reviews of Environmental Health” and co-authored by researchers working in public and reproductive health and biological sciences based mainly at the University of Missouri, raised red flags about impacts to reproductive and developmental health, based on the results of existing peer-reviewed studies.
One of the authors of the new paper said their conclusions refute industry assertions that oil and gas operations don’t present a health risk to nearby communities. To the contrary, the systematic review of scientific studies should set off alarm bells among medical professionals in gas patch communities …
… All in all, there are enough red flags to show there is a compelling need to learn more about the potential health consequences for adults, infants, and children from these chemicals, said Ellen Webb, with the Center for Environmental Health …
… “This work is important because the industry has long portrayed drilling as safe, and now more and more studies are showing there are reasons for concern,” Webb concluded …
… Many of the air and water pollutants found near UOG [unconventional oil & gas] operation sites are recognized as being developmental and reproductive toxicants; therefore there is a compelling need to increase our knowledge of the potential health consequences for adults, infants, and children from these chemicals through rapid and thorough health research investigation.
Exposure to chemical pollution can be linked to reproductive and developmental health impacts including infertility, miscarriage or spontaneous abortion, impaired fetal growth, and LBW. Given that many of the air and water pollutants found near UOG sites are recognized as being developmental and reproductive toxicants, there is a compelling need to increase our knowledge of the potential health consequences for infants, children, and adults from these chemicals through rapid and thorough further health research investigation. Chemicals used and produced in UOG operations are associated with human health effects and demonstrated to cause reproductive and developmental damage in laboratory animals. Whereas environmental human and animal monitoring is needed to measure actual exposure (170), we know enough to know the following:
There has been and continues to be a dramatic expansion of UOG operations.
- Spills, leaks and discharges of UOG wastewater are common.
- UOG chemicals have been measured in air and water near operations.
- UOG chemicals have been directly linked with adverse reproductive and developmental health outcomes in laboratory studies.
- UOG chemicals have been associated with adverse human reproductive and developmental health outcomes in epidemiological studies.
Taken together, there is an urgent need for the following: 1) biomonitoring of human, domestic and wild animals for these chemicals; and 2) systematic and comprehensive epidemiological studies to examine the potential for human harm.
… A paper published Friday in Reviews on Environmental Health … suggests that even tiny doses of benzene, toluene and other chemicals released during the various phases of oil and natural gas production, including fracking, could pose serious health risks — especially to developing fetuses, babies and young children.
We hear a lot of anecdotal stories all the time,” said Dr. Sheila Bushkin-Bedient, of the Institute for Health and the Environment at University at Albany-SUNY and co-author on the paper, “but now that we’ve had a decade of opportunity to observe the ill effects from these chemicals on people and animals, the evidence is no longer just anecdotal” …