What Fracking Does to Your Hormones

New research suggests the gas-drilling process can release harmful chemicals that disrupt human hormones.

A gas flare, created when excess flammable gases are released by pressure valves during natural gas and oil drilling, rises out of the ground in North Dakota.
National Journal
Marina Koren
Add to Briefcase
Marina Koren
Dec. 16, 2013, 10:05 a.m.

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 »
HAPPENED LAST WEEK
Bannon Subpoenaed By Mueller
35 minutes ago
THE LATEST

"The move marked the first time Mr. Mueller is known to have used a grand jury subpoena to seek information from a member of Mr. Trump’s inner circle. ...Mr. Mueller is likely to allow Mr. Bannon to forgo the grand jury appearance if he agrees to instead be questioned by investigators in the less formal setting of the special counsel’s offices in Washington."

Source:
RYBICKI TO DISCUSS CLINTON’S EMAIL SERVER
Wray Chief of Staff to Meet with House Investigators Thursday
55 minutes ago
THE LATEST

"The chief of staff and senior counselor to FBI Director Christopher Wray is expected to meet with the House Oversight Committee Thursday. A spokesperson for House Oversight confirmed to the Washington Examiner that Jim Rybicki is expected to testify as part of the committee’s investigation into the Department of Justice’s probe in Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and the decision by then-FBI Director James Comey to announce there would be no criminal charges against the former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee."

Source:
WON’T SAY WHETHER NORWAY IS PREDOMINATELY WHITE
Nielsen Defends Trump Before Senate Judiciary
57 minutes ago
THE LATEST

"Homeland Security Kristjen Nielsen confirmed that President Trump used 'tough language' in an Oval Office meeting last week over immigration policy, but she said she did not hear him describe some African countries and Haiti as 'shithole countries,' as has been reported." When pressed she, also said she "didn't know" whether Norway was a predominately white country.

Source:
TICKS UP TO 12.2%
Uninsured Rate Rose in 2017
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The percentage of Americans without health insurance ticked up 1.3 percentage points in 2017, ending the year at 12.2%, according to the latest data from Gallup. That’s still a lot lower than it was before the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion took effect, but this is the biggest single-year increase under the ACA."

Source:
TESTIMONY COULD HAPPEN AS SOON AS FRIDAY
Hicks to Meet with House Intel Committee
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"White House Communications Director Hope Hicks is expected to meet with the House Intelligence Committee as soon as this week, making her one of President Donald Trump's closest confidantes to be privately interviewed in the panel's Russia investigation, multiple sources with knowledge of the matter told CNN." She could testify as soon as Friday.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login