Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The effects of fracking on our health

Mention certain companies around me and it's guaranteed to get my blood boiling. Monsanto. Neville Chemical. Marcellus Shale. Yeah, just typing their names has me fuming. But today, I just want to focus on one of them. Marcellus Shale. To say I hate this company is an understatement. Oh, sure, they've brought a lot of temporary jobs to the region. Sure, they're temporarily boosting the local economy. But my question is: At what cost??

Many supporters of fracking won't admit the dangers until it affects their health or the health of one of their children or grandchildren. And even then, they're liking to bury their head in the sand (a dangerous place to be if there's fracking nearby). I've spent part of my evening arguing this with a trusted friend. He and I are on opposite sides of this debate, as are many of my friends. But that doesn't make me feel less strongly about it. As a matter of fact, it propels me to be more vocal than ever. 

I believe (and yes, it is my opinion) that fracking is environmentally irresponsible. But I'm not even going to argue that right now. The point of this post is to present what many researchers believe to be the health risks associated with fracking. These health risks only started rising to the surface within the last couple of years, so the impact is still unknown. But the findings so far are frightening. Terrifying, in fact. 

There are 632 chemicals involved in the hydraulic fracturing process. Of those, approximately 475 are known to be hazardous to our health, affecting our skin and eyes, as well as our respiratory and gastrointestinal systems. The nervous, immune, and cardiovascular systems can be affected by 250 - 315 of the chemicals, as can the kidneys and brains. The endocrine system is at risk, as well. Based on the research, cancer and mutations are also possibilities.[Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, 2011]

Even at low levels, exposure to these chemicals puts all of us at risk for devastating short- and long-term health problems. It will be years before we truly know the true effects.

Researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado, conducted their own studies. Keep in mind, they had nothing to gain. Marcellus Shale, and the other fracking companies who claim there is no risk, have everything to gain with their claims. This is always an issue to remember when looking at the results of studies. Ask yourself: Who is funding the research?

The conclusions drawn by the above studies in Colorado were simply this: the closer you live to drilling sites, the more likely you are to be sickened by them. Makes sense, right? The problem is, even if you know it's the fracking that's making your family sick, you simply can't afford lawyers who can stand up to the corporate lawyers waging war for the industry. You lose. Period.

But what about all the studies stating that fracking is completely safe and presents no risk to our health? Well, consider this: according to the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives, there is not one single health expert -- not one -- in the various commissions and boards in the state and federal levels. The committees were developed with public health in mind, yet none of the 52 people are qualified to evaluate health risks in the Marcellus shale region. 

Now, isn't that enough to make you sick?!

Hey, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe fracking is God's gift to an economically depressed region. Or maybe it's the devil's means for eliminating more of God's good people. Death by fracking. It makes you wonder.

Sharing my rage and concern,

Don't take my word for it. Check out these links:

Fracking Ourselves to Death in Pennsylvania

Washington County Pennsylvania Fracking

Living with Fracking in Washington, PA -- Moms Matter 2012

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