Chemicals used for fracking may harm human development

Scientific studies are inconclusive as to the potential harm of specific chemicals to the endocrine system.
By Stephen Feller  |  Aug. 28, 2015 at 9:30 AM
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COLUMBIA, Mo., Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Researchers at the University of Missouri have called for new studies into the individual and total effects of the chemicals used in fracking on the endocrine system and human reproduction.

More than 1000 chemicals are used as part of the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract oil and natural gas.

"While these technologies have dramatically increased domestic oil and natural gas production," researchers wrote in the study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, "they have also raised concerns for the potential contamination of local water supplies with the approximately 1,000 chemicals used throughout the process, including many known or suspected endocrine-disrupting chemicals."

The researchers reviewed more than 100 studies on fracking and the chemicals used in the process. They found that fracking can lead to the release of a mixture of endocrine disrupting chemicals that can harm human development and reproduction.

In the review, researchers specifically considered studies of surface and ground water contamination by oil and gas extraction operations, as well as the effects of chemicals used in those operations. They found gaps in knowledge of exactly what effect the chemicals have on the endocrine system, however they call for studies to specifically look into it.

"Studying these complex mixtures of chemicals released during fracking is necessary since the chemical identities used in oil and natural gas operations are not always known," said Susan Nagel, an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and women's health at the University of Missouri, in a press release. "Additionally, there is strong evidence of endocrine disrupting chemical mixtures having additive effects, so this approach also may be more sensitive."

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