Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Fracking Chemicals Linked to Cancer, According to New Report

Energy
Fracking Chemicals Linked to Cancer, According to New Report

The fluids used for hydraulic fracturing in California oil wells contain dozens of hazardous chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption and reproductive system damage, according to a new report by Environmental Working Group (EWG).

This new analysis shows why other state governments must require drilling companies to disclose the chemicals they are deploying. It underscores the urgent need for independent oversight of drilling in California and elsewhere. Photo credit: Environmental Working Group

In the analysis, “California’s Toxic Fracking Fluids: The Chemical Recipe," EWG deconstructs drilling companies’ use of 200 unique chemicals in nearly 700 wells across the state, with each company deploying around two dozen chemicals. These chemicals have the potential to contaminate drinking water, air and soil and to harm human health.

“Fracking is inherently problematic because of the chemicals used in the fluid,” said Tasha Stoiber, EWG senior scientist and a co-author of the report. “Since California has one of the most comprehensive and transparent disclosure programs in the nation, it’s the best window we have on the specific chemicals drillers are injecting into the ground. Disclosure of these hazardous or little-known chemicals to the public is necessary to gain much needed information on the risks of fracking.”

Fracking fluid is a mixture of water, chemicals and sand that is pumped into underground shale rock formations to crack them and release oil and natural gas trapped there. Of the chemicals added to fracking fluid in California, 15 are listed under the state’s Proposition 65 as known causes of cancer or reproductive harm, 12 are listed under the Clean Air Act as hazardous air pollutants known to cause cancer or other harm and 93 are associated with harm to aquatic life.

In March, EWG released its report Toxic Stew to bring attention to California’s contaminated fracking wastewater. The analysis released today gives a fuller picture of the process by revealing what is pumped down fracking wells, the likely origin of some contaminants in wastewater and the array of hazardous chemicals used, stored or transported at fracking sites.

EWG’s analysis shows why other state governments must require drilling companies to disclose the chemicals they are deploying. It underscores the urgent need for independent oversight of drilling in California and elsewhere.

The EWG report recommends that state officials:

  • Determine where less harmful alternatives can replace toxic chemicals currently used;
  • Immediately halt operations that are injecting drilling wastewater into potential sources of drinking or agricultural water;
  • Monitor groundwater in oil and gas areas and properly enforce model criteria developed under the California disclosure law.

“California leads the nation when it comes to providing more information about fracking chemicals to the public,” said Bill Allayaud, EWG’s California director of government affairs and co-author of the report. “But full disclosure is only the first step. Now it’s time for state officials to act aggressively to make sure these hazardous substances don't jeopardize human and environmental health.”

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

10 Years Later: Fracking and the Halliburton Loophole

3 Reasons Why America Is Turning to Renewable Energy

‘Don’t Frack With Denton’

A sea turtle rescued from Israel's devastating oil spill. MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP via Getty Images

Rescue workers in Israel are using a surprising cure to save the sea turtles harmed by a devastating oil spill: mayonnaise!

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A "digital twin of Earth." European Space Agency

As the weather grows more severe, and its damages more expensive and fatal, current weather predictions fall short in providing reliable information on Earth's rapidly changing systems.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Melting ice in places such as Greenland could stop a critical ocean current. Paul Souders / Getty Images

The climate crisis could push an important ocean current past a critical tipping point sooner than expected, new research suggests.

Read More Show Less
California Gov. Gavin Newsom tours the Chevron oil field west of Bakersfield, where a spill of more than 900,000 gallons flowed into a dry creek bed, on July 24, 2019. Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

By Brett Wilkins

Accusing California regulators of "reckless disregard" for public "health and safety," the environmental advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity on Wednesday sued the administration of Gov. Gavin Newsom for approving thousands of oil and gas drilling and fracking projects without the required environmental review.

Read More Show Less
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Kenyan professor Wangari Maathai poses during the COP15 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark on December 15, 2009. Olivier Morin / AFP / Getty Images

By Kate Whiting

From Greta Thunberg to Sir David Attenborough, the headline-grabbing climate change activists and environmentalists of today are predominantly white. But like many areas of society, those whose voices are heard most often are not necessarily representative of the whole.

Read More Show Less