Welcome back to the ranks of the S.C.R.E.W.E.D! Well, we’re galloping along at the pace of a toxic waste build-up! At number five we have,
5. Bad for babies.
The waste fluid left over from the fracking process is left in open-air pits to evaporate, which releases dangerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere, creating contaminated air, acid rain and ground-level ozone.
Exposure to diesel particulate matter, hydrogen sulfide and volatile hydrocarbons can lead to a host of health problems, including asthma, headaches, high blood pressure, anemia, heart attacks and cancer.
It can also have a damaging effect on immune and reproductive systems, as well as fetal and child development. A 2014 study conducted by the Colorado Department of Environmental and Occupational Health found that mothers who live near fracking sites are 30 percent more likely to have babies with congenital heart defects.
Research from Cornell University indicates an increased prevalence of low birth weight and reduced APGAR scores in infants born to mothers living near fracking sites in Pennsylvania. And in Wyoming’s Sublette County, the fracking boom has been linked to dangerous spikes in ozone concentrations. A study led by the state’s Department of Health found that these ozone spikes are associated with increased outpatient clinic visits for respiratory problems.
6. Killer Gas
A recent study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that homes located in suburban and rural areas near fracking sites have an overall radon concentration 39 percent higher than those located in non-fracking urban areas. The study included almost 2 million radon readings taken between 1987 and 2013 done in over 860,000 buildings from every county, mostly homes.
A naturally occurring radioactive gas formed by the decay of uranium in rock, soil and water, radon—odorless, tasteless and invisible—moves through the ground and into the air, while some remains dissolved in groundwater where it can appear in water wells. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer worldwide, after smoking. The EPA estimates approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. are radon-related.
“Between 2005-2013, 7,469 unconventional wells were drilled in Pennsylvania. Basement radon concentrations fluctuated between 1987-2003, but began an upward trend from 2004-2012 in all county categories,” the researchers wrote.