The fifth Fracking Health Compendium finds that the oil and gas drilling technique poses high risks to food, water and the climate, and cannot be done safely.
The report is a compilation of the rapidly growing body of scientific research into the process that injects heavily treated water into deep shale formations to free trapped natural gas and oil. According to Sandra Steingraber, a biologist and co-founder of Concerned Health Professionals of New York, much of the research into the health and safety concerns of fracking comes from here in Pennsylvania.
“What it shows is that fracking is not safe and cannot be made safe through any regulatory framework,” she says. “And the risks that we had concerns about in the early days, now we have evidence for actual harm.”
Proponents of fracking say 250,000 fracked wells in operation around the country have proved that the process is environmentally safe.
But Steingraber – currently the distinguished scholar in residence in the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences at Ithaca College – points out that in areas close to fracked wells and infrastructure, there are increased rates of asthma and other respiratory ailments – and among infants, various impacts such as lower birth weight, birth defects, and lower scores on infant development.
“We know from previous research that early life and prenatal exposure to chemicals like we know are coming out of fracking operations are indeed related to these kinds of outcomes,” says Steingraber.
One study looked at a million infants in Pennsylvania and found that incidents of impaired development increased the closer a mother lived to a fracking site.
Steingraber says the research in the report not only documents the harmful effects of chemicals associated with fracking but also examines efforts to mitigate those effects.
“We looked all over the world at many sets of regulations and could find no evidence to suggest that fracking could be done in a way that isn’t a threat to public health,” she says.
She says the research shows that transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 is critical to protecting our air and water, and to avoiding the worst effects of climate change.
-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection