While fracking has led to a substantial increase in US oil and gas production, the controversial procedure poses considerable environmental and public health risk.
A chemical spill caused by fracking is becoming an increasingly common mishap. In fact, 16% of all U.S. fracking wells spill harmful chemicals according to a recent scientific investigation.
During the decade ending in 2014, there were nearly 6,650 chemical spills in just 4 states.
Not only does a chemical spill result in the deterioration of the environment, but it also produces negative public health outcomes such as asthma Read on to learn more about fracking’s links to asthma.
What is Fracking and How Does it Cause a Chemical Spill?
Before this article dives into the negative health effects of fracking, it is important to understand exactly how the procedure is performed.
Fracking is performed through the use of a process known as hydraulic fracturing.
This process works by mixing chemical additives with water and then injecting this fluid into a production well. This mixture helps release trapped resources in the well by cracking the underground rock.
The wastewater is collected after the procedure is complete and is subject to disposal and reuse processes. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acknowledges the many different ways in which a chemical spill can occur.
If the production well has inadequate mechanical integrity, the injection process can cause leaks. The handling, storage, and disposal of hydraulic fracturing fluid and wastewater also frequently result in spills.
Clearly, if spills and leaks are occurring in ground or surface water, this may present an issue for drinking water.
How do Chemical Spills Cause Asthma?
John Hopkins University conducted a shocking study on a dangerous public health outcome resulting from fracking. For asthma patients living within close proximity to fracking production wells, the likelihood of an asthma attack increases by the multitude.
The study concluded that those afflicted with asthma are 1.5 to 4X more likely to suffer an asthma attack when living near a natural gas development project.
The John Hopkins study was performed in north and central Pennsylvania, where there has been a rapid expansion of fracking. In a 12-year period ending in 2012, the number of wells in Pennsylvania increased by over 6,000.
Along with the increase in wells came a jaw-dropping number of asthma attacks. During a 7-year period from 2005-2012, there were over 27,000 asthma attacks. These attacks ranged from mild to severe, with thousands requiring hospitalization.
Asthma is just one of the many negative public health outcomes of fracking. The process has also been blamed for increasing the likelihood of birth complications, skin ailments, and respiratory problems.
The more that scientists learn about fracking, the more evident the environmental and public health concerns become. Asthma is just one of the many ailments worsened by proximity to a fracking site.
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