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Your Award-Winning News Source for the Upper Delaware River Valley Region Since 1975

Vol. 34 No. 49

DECEMBER 4-10, 2008


What’s in that fracking fluid?
Pennsylvania discloses the chemicals used by the drilling companies


ENNSYLVANIA — It’s something many people in the Upper Delaware region want to know: what chemicals are being used by the natural gas industry in its drilling processes? The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) notes that while companies may keep their fracking “formulas” proprietary, the individual ingredients are public record in Pennsylvania. The agency supplied The River Reporter with a list of chemicals that may be used during the fracking process. Any of them may be present in the wastewater generated and may be stored temporarily in open pits at the site. We asked researchers at The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX) to analyze theTable 1.its potentialassociated with 10 or more health effect categories list for Chemicals health effects. TEDX

is a non-profit organization that reviews and interprets scientific research focused on the effects of synthetic chemicals on human and animal health. TEDX president Dr. Theo Colborn has published, lectured and testified extensively on the effects of chemicals on the developing endocrine, immune, metabolic and nervous systems. The tables and graphs presented here were generated by that organization. Of the 59 chemicals on the list, several were synonyms for the same chemical (e.g. Isopropanol, Isopropyl Alcohol, Propan-2-01). When this occurred, the names were combined to create a final list of 54 chemicals. TEDX staff searched the literature for health effects associated with the 54 chemicals and broke them into 14 different health effect categories commonly used in government toxicological literature. The table below shows the number of chemicals out of the 54 that have effects on at least 10 health categories.


2-butoxyethanol Ethylhexanol Formaldehyde Glutaraldehyde Boric Acid Ethane-1,2-diol (ethylene glycol) Ethylene Glycol Methanol

# of Categories 13 13 13 13 12 12 12 11


Monoethanolamine Dazomet Acetic Anhydride Isopropanol Propargyl Alcohol (Prop-2-yn-1-01) 5-chloro-2-methyl-4-isothiazotin-3-one Sodium Bicarbonate (NaHCO3) Diesel

# of Categories 11 10 10 10 10 10 10 10

Fracking chemicals associated with ten or more health effect categories.

Controlling fracking fluids The following tables summarize the health effect categories associated with the chemicals.
Shale it the process takes place well below Figure 2. is safe becauseTable 2. Total chemicals (N=54) the waDefenders of the fracking process say that in the Marcellus ter table that provides drinking water. The water is injected deep underground through lined wells that prevent the fracking fluid from contaminating the water in the higher part of the earth beneath the drill site. Health Effect Category Critics, however, argue that the casings around the well bore
100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

78% 42 Skin, eye and sensory organ 74% 40 Respiratory 54 chemicals DEP 36 Gastrointestinal and liver identified by the 67% as being used in fracking fluids, and the percentage of which have effects on health categories. 56% 30 Other 54% 29 Cardiovascular and blood 54% 29 Brain and nervous system 46% 25 Kidney 43% 23 Ecological 41% 22 Immune 30% 16 Cancer 26% 14 Mutagen 26% 14 Developmental 24% 13 Endocrine disruptors 20% 11 Reproductive

that are intended to prevent fracking fluids from entering the ground water supply have failed in the past, and will likely fail in the future in at least some instances. Further, a large amount of fracking fluid comes back out Number of the well after drilling, and can then contaminate air and Percent of of ground water if not properly handled. The chemicals pose a Chemicals Chemicals threat to human health until they are disposed of.

Skin, eye and sensory organ

Most of the chemicals were associated with skin, eye and sensory organ irritation and toxicity, followed by respiratory effects, gastrointestinal and liver effects. The ‘Other’ category includes Respiratory GastrointestiResult in other Cardiovascular Brain and Kidney Ecological Immune Cancer Mutagen Developmental such and liver as death, teeth effects, etc. The most often cited effect in this category is the ability nal effects disorders and blood nervous of chemical to cause death.
The “Other” category includes such effects as death, teeth effects, etc. The most often cited effect in this category is the ability of the chemical to cause death.

Endocrine disruptors


Most of the chemicals in the above chart were associated with skin, eye and sensory organ irritation and toxicity, followed by respiratory effects, gastrointestinal and liver effects.

The “Ecological” category refers to damage to a wide variety of birds, fish, amphibians, or other aquatic species.


32 Number of Chemicals 31 34 26 32 26 31 25 26 21 26 21 25 19 21 14 21 11 19 11 14 11 11 10 11 11 10 94% Percent of Chemicals 91% 100% 76% 94% 76% 91% 74% 76% 62% 76% 62% 74% 56% 62% 41% 62% 32% 56% 32% 41% 32% 32% 29% 32% 32% 29% These chemicals are soluble.Renew today and receive the same offer. May take up to 4 weeks to begin.” The report continues.. Soluble chemicals (N=34)Category contamination from spills of hy100% 34 Skin. State. 100% 21 Skin. do not know what chemicals have Chemicals that can move through water been used in fracturing operations because companies are notSoluble the 54 chemicals (N=34) DEP as being used in fracking RIVER REPORTER Offer expires: 3/1/09 . 100% 21 Skin. allowing Of chemicals identified by Table 4. rashes 29% 6 Cancer from showering. the 54 chemicals identified by liver 100% 21 As chemicals below. in48% 10 Developmental creased methane in water. required to discloseThese chemicals are readilysurface and underground water.. skin. sign me up for a FREE 6 WEEK TRIAL Subscribe for 1 year. state agencies respiratory tract. These chemicals are soluble. respiratory tract. skin. eye and sensory organ 81% 17 Kidney citizens from many states have reported negative impacts to wa95% 20 Other 71% 15 Ecological ter quality in the wake of hydrau90% 19 Cardiovascular and blood 52% 11 Immune lic fracturing. soaps. NARROWSBURG. NY 12764 | 845/252-7414 | www. black jel33% 7 Mutagen ly-like grease. skin. do not test for all fracturing fluid Percent of Number of chemicals. allowing them to move intosurface and underground water T following figures display the same information found in the tables. The report says. Volatilenoted in the table(N=21) these chemicals can harm the eyes.” Reproductive 9 43% can ha can ha Respiratory Health Effect Category Gastrointestinal and liver Skin.Table 3. all of these chemicals this informathem to move into airborne. Time added to current subscription. 52% 11 Immune disruptors 33% 7 Endocrine diesel fuel or petroleum odors. eye and sensory organ Cardiovascular and blood Respiratory Other Gastrointestinal and liver Brain and nervous system Cardiovascular and blood Kidney Other Ecological Brain and nervous system Immune Kidney Developmental Ecological Cancer Immune Endocrine disruptors Developmental Reproductive Cancer Mutagen Endocrine disruptors Reproductive Mutagen Try us for 6 weeks FREE* with NO obligation Yes. Citizens have also exChemicals Chemicals Health Effect perienced soil and surface water Table 4. chemicals cases. “In most 7 These chemicals Endocrine disruptors As noted in the table. Consequently. OR take advantage of this GREAT OFFER! Current Subscribers. allowing them to move intosurface and underground water T following figures display the same information found in the tables. Name___________________________________Address_____________________________ City.. Volatile chemicals (N=21) Percent of Number of Chemicals Chemicals Health Effect Category Chemicals that can move through air OfGastrointestinal and DEP as being used in fracking the table. the agencies conducting 29% 6 Cancer follow-up water quality sampling eyes.. *Limit one per household. all of these33% are readily airborne. As noted tion. That’s 104 issues for only $35. 34 are soluble. 100% 21 Respiratory gastrointestinal tract or liver. all of Table 3. eyes. eye and sensory organ Percent of Number of 95% 20 Other Chemicals Chemicals Health Effect Category 90% 19 Cardiovascular and liver 100% 21 Gastrointestinaland blood According to a report from the 90% 19 Brain and nervous system 100% 21 Respiratory Oil & Gas Accountability Project. No refunds. gastrointestinal tract or liver. Zip_______________________________________Phone_____________________ E-mail________________________________________________________________________________ c an issu e LESS T HAN 34 THE PO BOX 150. gassy taste and Fracking fluid complaints and identification decrease or complete loss of water 33% 7 Mutagen flow. 21 are readily airborne. 71% 15 Ecological iron precipitates. floating particles. gastrointestinal tract or liver. eye and sensory organ draulic fracturing fluids. black or gray sediments. respiratory tract.Receive 1 year for FREE. “Common com90% 19 Brain and nervous system 48% 10 Developmental plaints include: murky or cloudy 81% 17 Kidney 43% 9 Reproductive water.