Study Shows Fracking Results In Toxic Chemical Exposure 2,000 Feet From Drilling Sites

We all know that fracking is bad for the environment and for human health. It’s just plain common sense. But now we have studies that prove it, including one performed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) that says fracking exposes people to toxic chemicals up to 2,000 feet away from drilling sites.

Hydraulic fracking is the process by which fossil fuel companies try to squeeze paltry amounts of oil and natural gas out of shale rocks by pumping chemicals into the ground at a high pressure.

For years, the fossil fuel industry has denied that fracking harms the environment as well as human health. Some states and localities have outright banned fracking to protect the health of their citizens and the environment, especially water resources that often end up being poisoned with chemicals, which is why some residents who live near fracking sites can literally light their water on fire as it runs out the faucet.

The state of Colorado is currently looking into placing heavy restrictions on fracking, and a final report from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) makes it clear that those regulations are very necessary because fracking sites expose anyone living up to 2,000 feet away to toxic chemicals that can cause serious health problems.

The Denver Post reports that the study “concluded that people living within 2,000 feet of fracking sites could face an elevated risk of short-term health impacts — such as nosebleeds, headaches, breathing trouble and dizziness — in worst-case scenarios.”

One such chemical is benzene, which has been linked to cancer.

Now Governor Jared Polis is looking to tighten emissions regulations. But the fact that the fossil fuel industry has known for years that these chemicals pose a health hazard is understandably upsetting healthcare professionals.

“Secret exposure to chemicals that our own EPA reports as a potential hazard to human health is unconscionable,” Dr. Alan Lockwood of Physicians for Social Responsibility told Newsweek. “Healthcare professionals can’t possibly treat patients properly, make protective public health plans and decisions, and protect first responders without knowing what chemicals are in the environment.”

Indeed, a separate study released earlier this year concluded that fracking cannot operate without threatening the public health.

The latest study by CDPHE is the first to use emissions data.

“This study is the first of its kind because it used actual emissions data to model potential exposure and health risks,” CDPHE environmental programs director John Putnam said. “While we pursue further research, we won’t delay enacting stricter emissions standards for chemicals that cause human effects, ozone pollution and climate change. This study reinforces what we already know: We need to minimize emissions from oil and gas sources.”

In fact, a boom in fracking in the United States and Canada is responsible for a spike in methane released into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas that, along with carbon dioxide, is responsible for climate change and rising global temperatures.

And the problem with benzene is that it’s already a major presence in the blood of children, which puts all of them at potential risk of developing cancers. It’s a tragedy that continues to unfold slowly, and the fossil fuel industry is ultimately responsible.

“Dozens of children living in close proximity to oil and gas have already documented off-the-charts levels of benzene in their blood,” Colorado Rising spokeswoman Anne Lee Foster explained. “Considering this and the corroborative data of the study, the state must pause oil and gas permitting and ensure that public health and safety is protected — as new legislation mandates.”

A lot of neighborhoods across the country are in close proximity to fracking sites that the fossil fuel industry claimed would be safe. They clearly lied, and now it’s time for governments, both state and federal, to do something about it.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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