Fracking is a method that is used to get natural gas out of the ground. There are many consequences of using this method because of the adverse effects it causes the environment as well the health hazards it is causing people. Knowing the process of fracking helps us understand this. In the following article by Grace Communications Foundation, they do an excellent job at describing what the fracking process is:
Natural Gas Fracking – Introduction
The method combines a new form of horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing – more commonly known as fracking GThe process blasts open fissures in underground shale-rock formations by injecting a high pressure combination of fluids, chemicals and proppants causing the fossil fuel to flow to the production well. During the fracking process, millions of gallons of fracking fluid – a mixture of water, sand and toxic chemicals – are injected into the ground to break up the shale and release natural gas. While each company’s formula is a closely guarded secret, in some cases the mix includes known carcinogens.
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After reading the first article, it becomes obvious that the drilling and the fracking fluid that is used during the fracking process is quite damaging to the environment. Not only does fracking have a major impact on the environment, but fracking has many secondary effects on people’s health. It is a major concern for those who have done some research on the subject and are aware of the effects that fracking has. Some of the major concerns are that water sources are being polluted since fracking releases toxic chemicals into the environment. In the following article by Natural Resources Defense Council, they discuss some of the general health concerns that are associated with fracking:
Unchecked Fracking Threatens Health, Water Supplies
The sector’s growth is spurred by the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which often-dangerous chemicals are mixed with large quantities of water (or other base fluid) and sand and injected into wells at extremely high pressure. Unconventional development using advanced fracking methods poses threats to water, air, land, and the health of communities. Studies have shown dangerous levels of toxic air pollution near fracking sites; and oil and gas extraction have caused smog in rural areas at levels worse than downtown Los Angeles.
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These are major problems that need to be addressed not only because of the environmental factors but also because of the health concerns that fracking is causing. The increase in birth defects is alarming. Residents in Pennsylvania are especially concerned due to the recent evidence of the effects of fracking in their area. In the following article by Philly.com, they discuss some of the impacts that fracking has has more on a local level:
PA Studies Link Fracking With Health Problems
Research released Wednesday from the University of Pennsylvania found that as more wells were drilled in Northeastern Pennsylvania, hospital admission rates for cardiovascular events rose in the same areas.
A study last month from the University of Pittsburgh linked how far women live from wells in southwestern Pennsylvania with the incidence of babies born small for their gestational age. And research out of Colorado in December found an association between living closer to natural gas development and having a child with a congenital heart defect.
The studies only show links, not cause and effect, and are not based on direct calculations of exposure to contaminants.
Nevertheless, they are among the first peer-reviewed studies of the potential health effects of a controversial gas extraction process that Pennsylvania has embraced.
A statewide registry to track health problems was recommended by an advisory commission in 2011 and included in legislation the following year. But the funding was stripped out.
Scientists have sought other ways to look at possible health risks.
The Penn study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, analyzed hospital discharge data for 93,000 inpatients, by zip code, between 2007 and 2011 in three counties in Pennsylvania’s northeastern corner. Bradford and Susquehanna each had large increases over that time in wells that use the technique known as hydrofracturing, or fracking, to extract deposits of natural gas. Neighboring Wayne County had no gas development.
While hospital admission rates decreased slightly or remained constant overall, as they have nationwide, hospitalizations for cardiology were about 27 percent higher over five years among residents who lived in zip codes with more wells and more wells per square kilometer than among those whose zip codes had the least.
Neurology admissions also increased significantly for zips with more wells.
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Residents in PA are greatly concerned since the effects of fracking are seen so close to home. The idea of having contaminated well water, air pollution, and other related health-related risks due to fracking, seem less than appealing. Although people depend on natural gas, the process of retrieving it, like fracking, is causing some irreversible major damage.
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