“Natural gas” has a nice ring to it, right? It’s natural! So it must be “clean”! The natural gas industry spends lots of money on commercials and ad campaigns to keep us believing that “natural gas” is clean and safe, but this misleading branding obscures the dirty truth. Natural gas is extracted from deep within the earth via hydraulic fracturing (fracking) – and fracking is neither clean nor safe. In fact, fracking poses a growing threat to public health from coast to coast.
Fracking contaminates our air and our water with toxic and hazardous chemicals – we know this is true. Chemicals from fracking fluid are injected deep into the earth’s surface, and eventually find their ways into underground aquifers, rivers and streams, and even into agricultural use. But even though we know they’re polluting our air and water, companies are still allowed to keep secret the full lists of all the chemicals they’re using to extract oil and gas. Partial lists exist, and from these lists we know that fracking fluid contains many harmful chemicals, including carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, which can mimic or block important hormones such as estrogen, and are linked to a host of health harms, including breast cancer. But what other chemicals are companies using when they drill and frack for oil and gas? And what are the health impacts of these undisclosed chemicals when they find their way into our air and water? Right now, we just don’t know.
This is good news, and we should speak up and say we want full disclosure of fracking chemicals – our health is on the line. It’s also very timely news, because one of the major chemical-mix suppliers to fracking companies, Baker Hughes, just announced that they will voluntarily disclose all the chemicals used in their fracking fluid recipes. For those of us who are concerned about the public health impacts of fracking, Baker Hughes’ announcement is important. From a public health perspective, transparency in reporting is absolutely critical.
Frankly, it’s astounding that as fracking operations rapidly expand across the United States and around the world, activists, policymakers and the public are still left without basic information about the chemical mixes that are injected, dumped, or leaked into our water supplies. We cannot accept this! We must know all the chemicals used for fracking, and this information must be timely and easy to access. We welcome the EPA’s announcement, and plan to submit our comments this summer – and we will help activists like you to do so as well.
But in the end, transparency regarding chemicals used in fracking for oil and gas is just a first step – and it’s not enough. It is not enough to know precisely which chemicals are poisoning our health – we shouldn’t be poisoned in the first place. This is a growing industry that threatens the basic necessities of life: our food and water. Take action and help spread the word about this inherently dangerous practice by sharing our Fracking and Breast Cancer flyer with your friends today!