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Thursday, October 30, 2014

USNews&World Report: Toxic Chemicals, Carcinogens Skyrocket Near Fracking Sites

"One minute you’re living your normal life, the next, people start to get really sick and they can’t get any answers."

"Oil and gas wells across the country are spewing “dangerous" cancer-causing chemicals into the air, according to a new study that further corroborates reports of health problems around hydraulic fracturing sites.“This is a significant public health risk,” says Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany-State University of New York and lead author of the study, which was published Thursday in the journal Environmental Health. “Cancer has a long latency, so you’re not seeing an elevation in cancer in these communities. But five, 10, 15 years from now, elevation in cancer is almost certain to happen.”
 
        A Pennsylvania farmhouse sits below pipes and pumps used for hydraulic fracturing in 2011.
Eight poisonous chemicals were found near wells and fracking sites in Arkansas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wyoming at levels that far exceeded recommended federal limits. Benzene, a carcinogen, was the most common, as was formaldehyde, which also has been linked to cancer. Hydrogen sulfide, which smells like rotten eggs and can affect the brain and upper-respiratory system, also was found. “I was amazed,” Carpenter says. “Five orders of magnitude over federal limits for benzene at one site – that’s just incredible. You could practically just light a match and have an explosion with that concentration. “It’s an indication of how leaky these systems are.” [...]

For Carpenter's study, trained volunteers living near the wells conducted air measurements, taking 35 “grab air” samples during heavy industrial activity or when they felt symptoms such as dizziness, nausea or headaches. Another 41 “passive” tests – meaning samples were taken during a designated period, not merely when levels spiked – were conducted to monitor for formaldehyde. The tests were then sent to accredited labs. Not every sample exceeded the recommended limits. But in those that did – slightly less than half the samples taken – benzene levels were 35 to 770,000 times greater than normal concentrations, or up to 33 times the exposure a driver might get while fueling his or her car. Similarly, hydrogen sulfide levels above federal standards were 90 to 60,000 times higher than normal – enough to cause eye and respiratory irritation, fatigue, irritability, poor memory and dizziness after just one hour of exposure."

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/10/30/toxic-chemicals-and-carcinogens-skyrocket-near-fracking-sites-study-says