Attempting to capitalize on the “microcosm” created by the Marcellus Shale boom in Pennsylvania, researchers across the United States are finally trying to determine the true effects of hydraulic fracking on the people and the environment in which its happening. It may have taken five years to put together a comprehensive study of the side effects of fracking, but the coalition of academic researchers involved in the project hope to answer:
Flowback waters – How toxic are these waters that have been mixed with natural and man-made chemicals?
Air quality – Do waste gases, an increased use of diesel fuel for compressors, trucks and drills affect the quality of air around fracking sites?
Overall health of the population – Has there been an increase in health issues around the Marcellus Shale sites that may correlate fracking hazards into public health risks?
There is no doubt that there are side effects caused by fracking; this attempt to study those side effects hopes to determine whether those side effects are hazardous.
Also slated for in-depth examination is a comparison between the populations around the Marcellus Shale area with those around the Barnett Shale area here in Texas to determine whether state regulations can help curb any negative effects of drilling or fracking.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also committed to delving into whether fracking has a substantial impact on the environment and public health. The Marcellus Shale study does not intend to duplicate the research of the EPA.
Source: The New York Times, “Taking a Harder Look at Fracking and Health,” January 21, 2012