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Delivered Testimony of Professor Margaret Rafferty, R.N., at Hydrofracking Forum (4/25/12)

Delivered Testimony of Professor Margaret Rafferty, R.N., at Hydrofracking Forum (4/25/12)

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Published by: New York State Senate Democratic Conference on Apr 26, 2012
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04/27/2012

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TESTIMONY
NewYorkStateSenatePublicForumonHydraulicFracturingApril25,2012SenatorTonyAvella
MARGARETA.RAFFERTYDNP,MPH,RN
TestimonyThankyouforinvitingmetotestifytoday.AsadoctorallypreparednurseeducatorincontinuouspracticeinNewYorkStatesince1975,Iwishtoemphasizethatwesimplydonotknowenoughabouthowthedevelopmentofunconventionalnaturalgasresourcesaffectshumanhealth.Cleanairandwaterarethefoundationsofourwell-being.Contaminatingourairandwatersupplywiththetoxicchemicalsused
in
highvolumehorizontalhydraulicfracturingcouldcompromisethesecornerstonesofourexistence.Pregnantwomen,infants.childrenandtheelderlywouldbeespeciallyvulnerable.Evenwithrobustregulation,naturaldisasterandhumanerrorareinevitable.WerecentlysawthetremendousdamageanddestructionthatHurricaneIrenecausedinNewYorkState.IopposehydraulicfracturingbecausenotenoughhasbeendonetostudywhateffectthisdrillingprocesshasonthehealthofAmericansincludingthecitizensofourState(Heinkel-Wolfe,2011).OnlyonecomprehensiveHumanHealthRiskAssessmentwasdonepriortotheinitiationofdrilling(McKenzie,Witter
&
Adgate,2011).Despitecallsformoreresearch,fundingforepidemiologicalstudieshasnotmaterialized.Meanwhile,somepeoplewholiveneardrillingsitesreportsymptomswhichincludesinusproblems,throatirritation,allergies,weaknessandfatigue,eyeirritation,nasalirritation,jointpain,muscleachesandpains,breathingdifficulties,visionimpairments,severeheadaches,skinirritationandincreasedcancerrates(Law,2011;PediatricEnvironmentalHealthSpecialtyUnitMountSinaiHospital,2011).Notonecasestudyappearsinthemedicalliteraturedescribinganincidentwithapatientaffectedbyhydraulicfracturing(Werntz,2011).Noresearchexiststoprovideguidancetoclinicians
 
Thelongerwewait,themorewelearnabouttheeffectsofthisnewtechnology.Afteryearsofcomplaintsaboutairqualityneardrillingsites,theAmericanLungAssociationrecentlyissuedastatementthatthereis"irrefutableevidenceofseriousthreatstohumanhealthfromairpollutantsemittedduringoilandnatural
gas
production"(AmericanLungAssociation[ALA],2012,p.1).Thisannouncementcameontheheelsofthe
U.S.
EnvironmentalProtectionAgency'sregulationsrequiringtheindustrytodecreaseemissionsfromnaturalgasproduction(EnvironmentalProtectionAgency[EPA],2012).Threeweeksago,
the
UnitedStatesGeologicalservicereported
that
injectionwellsarelinkedtoearthquakes.Thechemicalsthatplayanintegralroleinhydraulicfracturingareanothercauseofpublichealthconcern.Fracturingfluidisamixtureofwater,chemicalsandsand(UnitedStatesHouseofRepresentativesCommitteeonEnergyandCommerce,2011).AccordingtotheDECreport,drillingcompanieshavedisclosedtheuseof322uniquechemicalsin235productsinourState(NewYorkStateDepartmentofEnvironmentalConservation[NYSDEC],2011).TheidentityofsomeofthcfracturingchemicalsthatwillbeusedinNewYorkStateremainsunknown(NYSDEC,2011).Manyofthcpendingbillsrequire
full
disclosureofthechemicalsusedinhydraulicfracturing.Ifpassed,theselawswouldhelppracticingcliniciansmakediagnosticdecisions.Severalprominentphysicians,includingDr.BernardGoldstein,amemberoftheNationalAcademiesofScienceInstitute
of
Medicine,havedemandedfulldisclosure(Goldstein,2011).Fracturingproducts,someofwhichareknownneurotoxins,carcinogensandendocrinedisrupters,arehighlydilutedwhenusedtofractureshalerock,(Bishop,3/28/20I1;Colborn,Kwiatkowski,Schultz,
&
Bachran,2011).Meanwhile,theroadsleadingtowatercontaminationaremany:transportationspills,well
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casingleaks,leaksthroughfracturedrock,drillingsitedischargeandwastewaterdisposal
all
provideswell-documentedpaths(Rozell
&
Reaven,2011).Dr.TheoColborn,theco-authorofoneofthefewpeer-reviewedarticlesonnaturalgasdrilling,citedabroadrangeofpotentialtoxicityofthechemicalsdeployed:over75%ofthechemicalscouldaffecttheskin,eyes,othersensoryorgans,respiratorysystemandgastrointestinalsystems;25%couldcausecancerandmutations;37%ofthechemicalscouldaffecttheendocrinesystemandalmost40-50%couldaffectthenervous,immuneorcardiovascularsystemandthekidneys(Colborn,etal,2011).Someexamplesofthesechemicalsare"benzene,toluene,ethylbenzene,xylene,ethyleneglycol,glutaraldehydeandotherbiocides,hydrochloricacidandhydrogen-treatedlightpetroleumdistillates"(PediatricEnvironmentalHealthSpecialtyUnits[PEHSU],2011).Tomakemattersworse,nothingisknownaboutthesynergeticeffectsofmixinghydraulicfracturingchemicalswiththemetalsandradionuc1idesthatexistnaturallyintheshalerock(Goldstein,2011).Asmorehealthprofessionalsbecomeawareofpossiblehealthimplicationsofunconventionaldrilling,manyhavevoicedconcerns(Covey,2011;Duggan,2010;Goldstein,2011;Finkel
&
Law,2011;McKenzie,Witter,
&
Adgate,2011;TexasMedicalAssociation,2011).AnumberofmyfellowhealthprofessionalsinNewYorkStatecommentedthatthedSGElSreportdidnotincludeacomprehensiveHealthImpactAnalysis.Isharetheirconcern.Therefore,S6772whichrequiresaHealthImpactsAssessmentforhorizontalgasdrillingandhigh-volumehydraulicfracturinghasmystrongsupport.
In
closing,Iurgetheapplicationoftheprecautionaryprinciple(Finkel
&
Law,
2011).Thereisnocrediblemedicalevidencethathighvolumehydraulicfracturingissafe.IasktheNewYorkStateSenatetourgetheDECtodelaypermittinghigh-volumehydraulicallyfracturedwellsuntilscientistsandotherhealthcareprofessionalsdeemthisactivitytobemedicallysafeand
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