Starkey Citizens for a Clean & Healthy Environment
Fracking’s Most Horrifying Health Risks

Fracking’s Four Biggest Biophysical Risks

There are five areas of concern, detailed in the research the doctors have collated, about the biophysical risks.

1. Radioactive wastewater

The higher levels of radioactive materials, released through drilling from Marcellus shale, exceed EPA’s maximum contaminant safety levels by 1,000-fold. Due to infrequent testing, it’s unlikely that radioactivity in public water would be detected prior to mass consumption, with exposure resulting in “anemia, cataracts, cancer, and increased mortality,” according to a CDC toxicological profiles report.

2. Radon

With radon exposure, the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., the radon present in the shale will readily mix with the gas and travel with it via pipeline into the homes and businesses of its end users.

3. Smog

Exhaust from trucks and industrial equipment increases smog in both rural locations and travels downstate to impair air quality in regional urban environments.

4. Chemical contamination of drinking water

Over time, most well casings fail. When fracking fluids seep from them to connect with underground fissures, previously abandoned wells, and natural faults and fractures, the contaminants and methane can readily migration over long distances into underground water ways and fresh drinking water sources.

Five Main Systemic Obstacles to Protecting Health From Fracking

In addition to the biophysical vectors, is the overarching context for assessing, preventing or treating the resulting diseases. To make an accurate assessment, it’s necessary to consider:

1. The long latency of many illnesses

A higher incidence of asthma, cancer, heart disease and the effects of endocrine disruption on developing fetuses and children, due to contaminant exposure, only become evident over time. To prevent disease rather than incur its high human and economic costs, it’s best to intervene prior to exposure, rather than act in hindsight.

2. The lack of medical know-how

Conventional medicine does not recognize, no less treat, symptoms and illnesses resulting from increasing toxic chemicals exposures. Treatment of cancer and radiation-related conditions is a medical specialty.

3. The conflicts of interests affecting scientific findings

According to studies cited in a 2012 meeting presentation before the NY DEC, industry-funded studies can result in findings that “benefit sponsors, (are based on) poor study design, and (withhold) negative data from publication.”

4. The lack of accurate health data gathering

“A pall of ignorance hangs over fracking,” says biologist Sandra Steingraber. “Emissions data, monitoring data, exposure data–these are the things you need in order to judge health effects, and where are they?”

They are largely absent due to the state governments which, like Pennsylvania, welcome fracking, but often fail to ascertain what happens to public health afterward. For example, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) neither adequately monitors nor collects health data. According to many PA citizen groups, it is singularly unresponsive to citizen’s reports, which are neither noted nor investigated until they have been personally reviewed by the governor, who understandably is too busy to get to them.

When local water supplies become contaminated in the aftermath of fracking, many citizens are forced to sign non-disclosure agreements in order to receive trucked-in water from the gas companies. Finally, as health problems in PA communities have emerged, the PA legislature attempted (so far unsuccessfully) to instate Act 13, an ALEC model bill that actually prohibits physicians from disclosing to patients and communities when fracking chemicals appear in people’s bloodstreams.

Unless overcome, ultimately, all of the above could result in a higher incidence of disease.

5. Increased health care costs

Increase costs can be projected for New York, based on increased costs incurred in other states. According to the same presentation on the Health Professionals Web site these include:

Costs related to acute effects from hydrofracking operations include doctor visits, laboratory tests, medications, emergency room visits and hospitalization due to acute medical disorders,acute exacerbations of existing chronic diseases (asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), congestive heart disease, exposure to radioactive materials, ingestion of contaminated water, inhalation of contaminated air, traffic accidents involving heavy duty trucks, and trauma from on-site accidents.
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