Hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as fracking, may be detrimental to the environment due to the potential hazards the procedure presents, including air and water pollution, soil and oil spill contamination and induced seismic activities. Fracking also poses serious health concerns to the workers and the people within the general vicinity of the operation.
Fracking is a technique used in the industry to increase production of oil and natural gas. This method involves boring deep into the ground and creating a well, which is typically encased in cement or steel. Highly pressurized fluids travel down the well and are then injected into cracks in shale or other compact formations. The fluids include vast amounts of water, a fracking solution, sand and various chemicals. Fracking causes the formation of larger fissures in the rocks, triggering the release of oil and natural gas.
Extracted natural gas contains a significant amount of methane, which is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Fracking operations also emit air pollutants into the environment, including toluene, benzene, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulates and formaldehyde. Employees and people in local communities may suffer from acute diseases, cancer, neural disorders or even death from exposure to these toxic substances, as stated by Carleton College. Aside from air pollution, fracking also contribute to subsurface water pollution due to the noxious additive compounds mixed in fracking fluids. Soil degradation and accidental oil spills that also result from fracking generally damage ecosystems.