Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, is getting some new heat for shaking things up. This time, however, it’s not about earthquakes, but disruptions in the human endocrine system.
Fracking uses chemicals that can disrupt the body’s hormones, namely reproductive hormones. Such chemicals seep into drinking water at natural-gas drilling sites during spills or accidents, and can interfere with endocrine functions when they enter the body, according to new research published in the journal Endocrinology.
In this study, researchers from the University of Missouri and the U.S. Geological Survey picked 12 suspected or known endocrine-disrupting chemicals and measured their ability to interfere with the body’s response to testosterone and estrogen. They collected samples that would contain these chemicals from groundwater at fracking sites that had experienced spills or accidents in a drilling-dense area of Colorado. They also took samples from nearby, spill-free sites with minimal usual drilling.
Their results showed that the water samples from the active fracking sites had higher levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals than in sites with little drilling. Their heightened presence in certain areas ups the risk of health problems for people living nearby, the researchers conclude.
Energy In Depth, a research group funded by the oil and gas industry, released a lengthy rebuttal to the findings after the research was announced Monday.
Fracking is not the only source of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, however. These substances are everywhere, and have been for years. They exist in our drinking water, plastic food containers and furniture. They can mimic or interfere with hormones, as well as increase or decrease hormone production. Their presence has been linked to cancer, birth defects, and infertility.
Fracking is currently not fully subject to federal regulation inscribed in the Safe Drinking Water Act, which sets health-based standards for drinking water quality in the United States. Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., whose state is at the center of the fracking debate, wants to help change that. In June, he proposed the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act, or FRAC Act, which would define fracking as a federally regulated activity under the drinking-water law. The legislation, which would also require the energy industry to disclose the chemicals used in fracking liquid, remains in committee.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are essentially unavoidable in our modern world. Right now, though, chemicals released through fracking may just be less unavoidable for some people than others.
What We're Following See More »
The cost of EpiPens have risen 400% since 2007, and members of Congress increasingly want to know why. Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to Mylan, which makes the allergy injection devices, on Monday. “Many of the children who are prescribed EpiPens are covered by Medicaid, and therefore, the taxpayers are picking up the tab for this medication," he wrote. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) "called earlier for a Judiciary Committee inquiry into the pricing and an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission."
"The U.S. is considering providing military support for hundreds of Turkish-backed rebels massing at the border with Syria for a major offensive meant to sever Islamic State’s supply routes there, officials from both countries said." As Turkey looks to reestablish its military's credibility after the recent coup attempt there, the U.S. is considering providing intelligence and air support.
Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.
Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.
Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”