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Fracking Releases 750+ Chemicals

Posted by feww on December 18, 2013

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) releases endocrine-disruptors to the environment: Report

Endocrine disruptors (endocrine disrupting chemicals, EDCs) are chemicals that can interfere with the endocrine (or hormone system) in mammals, causing cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders.

“Hundreds of products containing more than 750 chemicals and components are potentially used throughout the extraction process, including over one hundred known or suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals,” says a new study on fracking.

HF6 - cooper-edu
Hydraulic fracturing (hydro-fracking) is credited as being first employed by Halliburton in 1948. The process injects a mixture of chemical additives, proppants (particles, like sand or ceramic), and water under high pressure into a target oil or gas zone in order to facilitate the flow of the gas or oil back to the surface for recovery. From 1999 to 2007, the Hydraulic Fracturing market expanded from just under $3 billion to 12.8 billion USD. [Global hydraulic fracturing market is forecast to grow from an estimated $31 billion in 2011, and  $40 billion in 2012 to $64 billion by 2017.] In 2009, the EPA and internal studies from natural gas companies themselves found that wastewater from this process contains levels of radioactivity and carcinogenic properties that are above the level that treatment plants are currently equipped to handle. Source:

To determine the extent of the risks involved, researchers conducted tests on 12 suspected or known EDCs used throughout the extraction process and measured their ability to influence the body’s reproductive hormones.

The researchers then collected surface and ground water samples from various sites in Colorado, including the “drilling-dense” region of Garfield County with more than 10,000 active natural gas wells and compared them to samples taken from other sites in the state where heavy fracking is absent.

Samples from the areas near heavy-drilling sites showed higher levels of EDC activity, according to the Endocrine Society, including a greater presence of chemicals that disrupt both testosterone and estrogen.

Some of the samples showing high traces of EDCs weren’t necessarily taken from fracking sites, but from areas of Colorado where known spills had been reported.

“In comparison,” the report says, “little activity was measured in the water samples from the sites with little drilling.”

These harmful chemicals “could raise the risk of reproductive, metabolic, neurological and other diseases, especially in children who are exposed to EDCs,” says the report co-author Susan Nagel of the University of Missouri’s School of Medicine.

“The rapid expansion in drilling operations utilizing hydraulic fracturing increases the potential for environmental contamination with the hundreds of hazardous chemicals used,” says the report .

“With fracking on the rise, populations may face greater health risks from increased endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure.”

“Fracking is exempt from federal regulations to protect water quality, but spills associated with natural gas drilling can contaminate surface, ground and drinking water,” Nagel added. “We found more endocrine-disrupting activity in the water close to drilling locations that had experienced spills than at control sites.”

  • Subject: Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals
  • Report Title: Estrogen and Androgen Receptor Activities of Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals and Surface and Ground Water in a Drilling-Dense Region
  • Authors: Christopher D. Kassotis, Donald E. Tillitt, J. Wade Davis, Annette M. Hormann and Susan C. Nagel
  • Abstract: The rapid rise in natural gas extraction utilizing hydraulic fracturing increases the potential for contamination of surface and ground water from chemicals used throughout the process. Hundreds of products containing more than 750 chemicals and components are potentially used throughout the extraction process, including over one hundred known or suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals. We hypothesized that a selected subset of chemicals used in natural gas drilling operations and also surface and ground water samples collected in a drilling-dense region of Garfield County, CO would exhibit estrogen and androgen receptor activities. Water samples were collected, solid-phase extracted, and measured for estrogen and androgen receptor activities using reporter gene assays in human cell lines. Of the 39 unique water samples, 89%, 41%, 12%, and 46% exhibited estrogenic, anti-estrogenic, androgenic, and anti-androgenic activities, respectively. Testing of a subset of natural gas drilling chemicals revealed novel anti-estrogenic, novel anti-androgenic, and limited estrogenic activities. The Colorado River, the drainage basin for this region, exhibited moderate levels of estrogenic, anti-estrogenic, and anti-androgenic activities, suggesting that higher localized activity at sites with known natural gas related spills surrounding the river might be contributing to the multiple receptor activities observed in this water source. The majority of water samples collected from sites in a drilling-dense region of Colorado exhibited more estrogenic, anti-estrogenic, or anti-androgenic activities than reference sites with limited nearby drilling operations. Our data suggest that natural gas drilling operations may result in elevated EDC activity in surface and ground water.  Copyright © 2013 by The Endocrine Society

Contact: Susan C. Nagel, PhD, University of Missouri, Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health, M659 Medical Sciences Building, 1 Hospital Drive, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211, Phone: 573–884-3028, Fax: 573–882-9010, Email:

U.S. Production of Natural Gas

U.S. production of natural gas increased exponentially, from a small amount in 2005 to about to 8 trillion cubic feet in 2011. Global hydraulic fracturing market is forecast to grow from an estimated $31 billion in 2011, and  $40 billion in 2012 to $64 billion by 2017, analysts say.

Leading Players in Hydraulic Fracturing

The leading players in Hydraulic Fracturing industry in North America are (in A to Z order) Baker Hughes, Calfrac Well Services, Cudd Energy services, FTS International, Superior Well Services, Halliburton, Schlumberger, Tacrom Services SRL (Romania), Trican Well Services Limited, United Oilfield Services, and Weatherford International Inc. Source:

See also

Total number of victims being diagnosed with cancer globally each year has jumped from 12.7 million in 2008 to more than 14 million last year, said the World Health Organization (WHO). [ December 13, 2013]

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