It is difficult to raise the issue of health impacts without appearing to be scaremongering.
There are many unknowns – not least which chemicals may be used when fracking goes into production. The industry is keen to tell us that only two chemicals have been used so far and that their fluid did not contain hazardous or toxic components. The chemicals used were Biocide and Hydrochloric acid, the former likely to be classed as hazardous waste and the latter classified as toxic by the Health Protection Agency. The Advertising Standards Authority decided that their claim was not sustainable.
There is also some uncertainty around and which compounds will be brought up and in what quantities in the flow back water. The Environment Agency’s analysis of the flowback water from Preese Hall gives us a good idea though. It contained radioactive material at up to 90 times the level allowed for unlicensed disposal, along with heavy metals including lead at 1,438 times the level found in drinking water, arsenic at 20x, along with cadmium and chromium.
Of equal concern is the fact that we can be pretty sure that a significant level of fugitive methane emissions will be released around each well.
Further concerns exist around air quality deterioration resulting from diesel emissions, noise and light pollution, and stress.
Much of our concern derives from the experiences of those in the US who have had fracking imposed on their local areas
The body of scientific evidence is growing at an alarming rate as can be seen in the growing volume of academic papers collated in the
Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking by the group “Concerned Health Professionals of New York”
In Pennsylvania they are maintaining a list called “The List of The Harmed” which shows some of this impact. The industry will tell you these cases are self-reported and not proven, and they are right that court cases have not yet been resolved. However, we invite you to follow the link and draw your own conclusions.
For more information about potential health impacts simply Google “fracking and health” and do your own research.