What Are the Heath Hazard Associated With Oil Well Fracking?


Quick Answer

Common health hazards associated with oil well fracking within the vicinity of the operation include accidental explosions, struck-by hazards, ingestion of contaminated water and overexposure to noxious chemicals that severely damage various organ systems in the body, which often result in infirmity and even death. Beyond the extraction site, oil well fracking also pose serious health concerns to the general public due to improper waste disposal and fracking-induced earthquakes.

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Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, is a method used in the oil and gas industry to increase production. The procedure involves boring thousands of feet beneath the surface. Under high pressure, vast amounts of fluids are injected into shale and other resistant rock formations via a well encased in cement. The fluids are a mixture of fracking solution, water, sand and chemicals. The extreme pressure combined with the fluids cause the rocks to fracture and form large fissures where the oil and gas can freely flow into the well for extraction.

In the United States, data from 632 various chemicals involved in fracking operations has been collated and published in a 2011 issue of the international journal Human and Ecological Risk Assessment. The results showed that 75 percent of the chemical substances are potentially detrimental to the skin, eyes, respiratory and abdominal systems. Around 40 to 50 percent impair neurological, renal, cardiovascular and immune functions. Approximately 37 percent cause hormonal imbalance and around 25 percent are said to be carcinogenic and mutagenic.

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