An ever-growing chorus of American scientists, health professionals, politicians, and media is calling for a country-wide moratorium on fracking, as evidence accumulates that the industry and the known carcinogens it relies on are causing profound harm to public and ecosystem health.
“A comprehensive analysis of nearly 1,500 scientific studies, government reports, and media stories on the consequences of fracking,” released last week, reveals an “overwhelming” amount of evidence that the drilling method deployed by fracking companies presents a “profound threat” both to public health and to the climate, Common Dreams reports.
More than 90% of the original research into the health impacts of fracking published between 2016 and 2018 “found a positive association with harm or potential harm,” concluded the sixth edition of the Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking.
Other key findings, writes Common Dreams, include that “69% of original research studies on water quality found potential for, or actual evidence of, fracking-associated water contamination; 87% of original research studies on air quality found significant air pollutant emissions; and 84% of original research studies on human health risks found signs of harm or indication of potential harm.”
“There is no evidence that fracking can operate without threatening public health directly and without imperiling climate stability upon which public health depends,” the authors declared.
Compendium co-founder Sandra Steingraber described the evidence against fracking as “damning,” observing that “as the science continues to come in, early inklings of harm have converged into a wide river of corroborating evidence.” She added that, “all together, the data show that fracking impairs the health of people who live nearby, especially pregnant women, and swings a wrecking ball at the climate. We urgently call on political leaders to act on the knowledge we’ve compiled.”
The release points to the “feverish pace” of domestic oil and gas extraction driven by Trump administration policies.
Grist notes the Compendium was published just days after more than 100 environmental groups and more than 800 individuals, including five Democratic representatives and one Democratic senator, sent a letter urging Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to act on a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette investigative report, published in May, on possible links between fracking and a recent spike in rare childhood cancers in rural part of Pennsylvania—currently host to more than 100,000 active fracking sites. Noting that the Post-Gazette’s own editorial board has already called on state authorities to confront this frightening public health anomaly, the signatories urged Wolf to direct Pennsylvania’s health department “to begin a formal investigation into the cause of these childhood cancer cases and to stop issuing permits for drilling and fracking in the state while this investigation commences.”
Steingraber, who co-signed the letter to Wolf, said one factor that distinguishes fracking from other public health hazards is that “there’s no industrial zone.” That means “it’s taking place literally in our backyards, and unfortunately some of the best evidence for both polluting emissions and emerging health crises is coming out of southwestern Pennsylvania.”