Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene are just a few of the more than two dozen metals and chemicals, some of them known to cause cancer, found in drinking water adjacent to intensive hydraulic fracturing operations in Texas, according to a report in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
The study, conducted on 550 wells across the Barnett Shale formation by researchers from the University of Texas at Arlington, found one or more of the substances in two-thirds of the wells sampled. “In the counties where there is more unconventional oil and gas development, the chemicals are worse,” said lead author Zacariah Hildenbrand. “They’re in water in higher concentrations and more prevalent among the wells. As you get away from the drilling, water quality gets better. There’s no doubt about it.”
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Benzene is a known carcinogen, while other compounds identified in the study can damage the nervous system, InsideClimate News reports. The study also found DCM, an industrial solvent and another possible carcinogen, in about 20% of the wells.