IN PRESS: Accepted for publication in the International Journal of Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, September 4, 2010. Expected publication: September-October 2011.
The technology to recover natural gas depends on undisclosed types and amounts of toxic
chemicals. A list of 944 products containing 632 chemicals used during natural gas operations was
compiled. Literature searches were conducted to determine potential health effects of the 353
chemicals identified by Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) numbers. More than 75% of the chemicals
could affect the skin, eyes, and other sensory organs, and the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems.
Approximately 40-50% could affect the brain/nervous system, immune and cardiovascular systems,
and the kidneys; 37% could affect the endocrine system; and 25% could cause cancer and mutations.
These results indicate that many chemicals used during the fracturing and drilling stages of gas
operations may have long-term health effects that are not immediately expressed. In addition, an
example was provided of waste evaporation pit residuals that contained numerous chemicals on the
CERCLA and EPCRA lists of hazardous substances. The discussion highlights the difficulty of
developing effective water quality monitoring programs. To protect public health we recommend full
disclosure of the contents of all products, extensive air and water monitoring, coordinated
environmental/human health studies, and regulation of fracturing under the U.S. Safe Drinking Water
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