Fracking: Hormones Can Be Affected by Chemicals, Researchers Say

Wednesday, 18 Dec 2013 04:55 PM

By Robin Farmer

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Fracking, the process used to extract natural gas, involves chemicals that disrupt hormones and are linked to cancer, birth defects, and infertility, scientists reported Monday.

Published in the journal Endocrinology, the study found that natural gas drilling operations may result in elevated EDC activity in surface and ground water.

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Endocrine-disrupting chemicals, or EDCs, could interfere with human sex hormones, the Daily Mail reported.

“More than 700 chemicals are used in the fracking process, and many of them disturb hormone function," said senior author Susan Nagel, who investigates the health effects of estrogen at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, The Los Angeles Times reported.

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

The researchers collected samples of ground and surface water from drilling and accident sites, including parts of the Colorado River located in a fracking-rich region; in Garfield County, site of 10,000 active natural gas wells and an area where fracking fluids have spilled; and Boone County, where no drilling occurred.

Fracking is a way to gather natural gas. It involves drilling and injecting highly pressurized fluids into shale rocks, which causes the rocks to crack and release natural gas. The procedure is controversial due to environmental concerns.

Of the more than 700 chemicals that the fracking process could use, scientists estimate that about 100 are known or suspected EDCs.

EDC exposure is very risky for fetuses, babies, and young children, scientists say.

"I'm not an alarmist about this, but it is something the country should take seriously," Nagel said, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"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 said, according to The Guardian.

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