Quantcast
Fracking
Fracking fluid and other drilling wastes are dumped into an unlined pit in Kern County, CA. Faces of Fracking / Flickr

Study: Fracking Chemicals Alter Immune System in Mice

Researchers from the University of Rochester have found the first evidence that early life exposure to groundwater contaminated by fracking chemicals "alters" the immune system in mice.

The paper, published Tuesday in Toxicological Sciences, could imply potential health dangers for the roughly 17.6 million Americans living within a mile of least one active oil or gas well.


For the study, researchers exposed pregnant mice to a mixture of 23 chemicals found in fracking groundwater that are known endocrine disruptors.

The researchers then observed that the mouse pups, particularly females, exposed to the 23 chemicals in the womb had "abnormal immune responses" in fighting off several types of diseases, including an allergic disease, a type of flu and a disease similar to multiple sclerosis, according to a press release of the analysis.

"The mice whose moms drank water containing the mixture had faster disease onset and more severe disease," lead author Paige Lawrence, the chair of Environmental Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, explained to Environmental Health News.

Human and mice immune systems are "more similar than they are different," Lawrence added to the news site. "This provides information as to what to look for in people."

The authors of the current study suggest more research is needed to understand how fracking chemicals impact the human immune system.

Fracking, aka hydraulic fracturing or unconventional oil and gas extraction, is a drilling technique that shoots high volumes of water, sand and a stew of chemicals into Earth to fracture rock and release oil and gas. Hundreds of unique chemicals are used during the process, including ones that can contaminate drinking water, air and soil and to harm human health, previous studies have found.

"This discovery opens up new avenues of research to identify, and someday prevent, possible adverse health effects in people living near fracking sites," Lawrence said in a statement.

"Our goal is to figure out if these chemicals in our water impact human health," she continued, "but we first need to know what specific aspects of health to look at, so this was a good place to start."

The paper is titled "Developmental Exposure to a Mixture of 23 Chemicals Associated With Unconventional Oil and Gas Operations Alters the Immune System of Mice."

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Health
"From 1992 to 2016, heat killed 783 workers in the U.S. and seriously injured nearly 70,000, according to a new report on heat risks." InsideClimateNews / USDA

Protect Workers From Extreme Heat, Advocates Urge OSHA

A broad coalition of worker advocacy, public health and environmental groups on Tuesday called on the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to create a workplace standard for heat stress.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Emilie Chen / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Against All Odds, Mountain Gorilla Numbers Are on the Rise

By Jason Bittel

The news coming out of East Africa's Virunga Mountains these days would have made the late (and legendary) conservationist Dian Fossey very happy. According to the most recent census, the mountain gorillas introduced to the world in Gorillas in the Mist, Fossey's book and the film about her work, have grown their ranks from 480 animals in 2010 to 604 as of June 2016. Add another couple hundred apes living in scattered habitats to the south, and their population as a whole totals more than 1,000. Believe it or not, this makes the mountain gorilla subspecies the only great apes known to be increasing in number.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
San Cristóbal de las Casas, in the Mexican state of Chiapas. Tjeerd Wiersma from Amsterdam, The Netherlands / CC BY 2.0

How Coca-Cola and Climate Change Created a Public Health Crisis in a Mexican Town

A lack of drinking water and a surplus of Coca-Cola are causing a public health crisis in the Mexican town of San Cristóbal de las Casas, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Some neighborhoods in the town only get running water a few times a week, so residents turn to soda, drinking more than half a gallon a day on average.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Plastic trash isn't safe for kids, whether human or bear. Kevin Morgans Wildlife Photography

Even Polar Bear Cubs Can’t Escape Plastic Pollution

By Allison Guy

Plastic bags are often stamped with an all-caps warning: This bag is not a toy. Unfortunately, polar bear moms don't have much control over their kids' playthings.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Insights
Sea level rise is a natural consequence of the warming of our planet. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

We Can’t Hide From Global Warming’s Consequences

Over the past few months, heat records have broken worldwide.

In early July, the temperature in Ouargla, Algeria, reached 51.3°C (124.34°F), the highest ever recorded in Africa! Temperatures in the eastern and southwestern U.S. and southeastern Canada have also hit record highs. In Montreal, people sweltered under temperatures of 36.6°C (97.88°F), the highest ever recorded there, as well as record-breaking extreme midnight heat and humidity, an unpleasant experience shared by people in Ottawa. Dozens of people have died from heat-related causes in Quebec alone.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Stacey_newman / Getty Images

More Than a Third of Schools Tested Have ‘Elevated Levels’ of Lead in Drinking Water

A troubling new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that more than a third of the nation's schools that tested their water for lead found "elevated levels" of the neurotoxin. But despite heightened concern in recent years about lead in drinking water, more than 40 percent of schools surveyed conducted no lead testing in 2016.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Bill Pugliano / Stringer / Getty Images

Can Elon Musk Fix Flint’s Water?

By Fiona E. McNeill

The Michigan community of Flint has become a byword for lead poisoning. Elon Musk recently entered the fray. He tweeted a promise to pay to fix the water in any house in Flint that had water contamination above acceptable levels set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
A researcher at Oregon State University examines creeping bentgrass. Oregon State University / Flickr / Tiffany Woods

You Need to Be Paying Attention to GMO Grass

By Dan Nosowitz

Creeping bentgrass doesn't get as much attention as other genetically modified plants. But this plant tells us an awful lot—emphasis on the "awful"—about how GMO plants are regulated and monitored.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!