I have been following the natural gas boom in the US both as an investor and as a concerned parent. The latest gas boom is due to a process called fracking whereby in simple terms, they drill deep into the earth’s crust, crack rock (shale) formations under the water supply and release gas captured in these formations for consumption. This has changed the hydrocarbon landscape but there seems to be a cost associated with this boom. Over time, more and more people are getting sick by the air or water supply around these fracking wells. The industry denies any wrong doing and has provided a list of commonly used chemicals during the fracking process. As I went over this list, I found a few chemicals that worried me.
Most of you may know this gas since it is used mostly to provide fuel for torches. Exposure in moderate concentrations may cause dizziness, headaches and unconsciousness. Acetylene displaces oxygen which can cause serious injury or death. And this gas is pumped into the ground. So guess in which direction it will try and go?
As a chemist, I have worked with this product which is a Benzene. I have to wear protective gear and use it in a fume hood which removes any odors and gases. Let’s see, it is a possible carcinogen, has been known to destroy organs such as lungs, kidneys and liver if exposed over long periods of time and is lethal to aquatic environment. In addition, it doesn’t mix well with water, but it is safe to pump it under our drinking water supply.
Here is another toxic chemical. It irritates your skin, eyes and damages your organs at low exposure rates. All you have to do is breathe it in.
Hopefully by now you will have figured out that if Benzene is in the word, then it can’t be good. This chemical causes serious eye damage, is toxic to aquatic life and is a possible carcinogen.
This one caught my eye because most people use this chemical on a day to day basis. It is in antifreeze that is used in your car’s radiator. Yes, good old fashioned antifreeze. So if there was a fracking accident and this escaped into our water supply, how many of you would still drink it? I mean the next time you buy a 1 gallon bottle of your favorite bottled water, add 2 drops of antifreeze and let me know if you drank it.
This is a chemical I won’t mess with. It is harmful with skin contact or if inhaled. It causes respiratory irrtation, dizziness or drowsiness. It is toxic to the central nervous system, ears, liver kidney and blood. But safe to pump underground.
I haven’t worked with this chemical but it has a dangerous rating. It is corrosive on contact, it is a possible carcinogen, has been known to destroy organs such as lungs, kidneys and liver if exposed over long periods of time and is lethal to aquatic environment. In addition add reproductive damage to the body.
So there are some of the chemicals that are being used in fracking. I could go over more but there are just to many. Now, I have read that these chemicals take up 0.5% of the fracking solution. To put it in perspective, if you have 1 gallon of water, you have 7 fluid ounces of chemicals listed above. That is about half a snapple bottle. Then multiply that by the millions of gallons used.
How safe do you think fracking really is?