Does exposure to toxic, carcinogenic and neurotoxic chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing and natural gas production processes cause adverse human health effects? Can exposure to these harmful chemicals through the gas exploration and production processes be linked directly to those processes? According to the oil and gas industry no such proof exists, and they cite industry-funded research to substantiate their claims of indemnity. Yet, a growing volume of independent scientic research shows just the opposite. So, why is the o&g industry exempt from federal regulation relating to the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), and numerous other environmental protection acts that have become law in the United States over the past four decades?
The Energy Policy Act of 2005, championed by Vice-President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush, working with and on behalf of the o&g industry, worded that act to specifically exempt the industry from having to report what they are putting into our water, air and soil to protect industry from being sued for harmful effects to people and the environment. Every other industry has the responsibility of proving what they are doing is safe and poses no significant risk to people and the environment before being allowed to pursue their activities, and the full cost of testing and compliance is borne by the companies involved in those activities that pose potential risk. In the case of the o&g industry the opposite is true. The cost and responsibility of proving harm is borne by those who are adversely affected, and the vast majority do not have the time, money or access to scientic research and study to make such determinations. Without such proof the industry claims there is no proof that what they are doing is harmful, and further claims that they are "operating within the law."
Human health issues related to exposure to endocrine disruption chemicals (EDC's) is a significant threat to people living near oil and gas exploration and production infrastructure, as has been demonstrated in studied by Dr. Theo Colborn of the Endocrine Disruption Exchange and other similar organizations. Tom Saunders has written a report on the issues surrounding the use of EDC's in the frac'ing process that is important to consider, and he compares it to the exposure by US military personnel to Agent Orange (Dioxin) during the Vietnam War. For details of Mr. Saunders' study please visit Human Health Issues from Endocrine Disruption Chemicals Exposure on this website.
The truth is that a vast amount of credible, peer-reviewed, scientific evidence is available to demonstrate that exposure to the toxic, carcinogenic and neurotoxic chemicals and compounds frequently used in the frac'ing and production processes for natural gas (and oil) does produce harmful, and potentially fatal, adverse health effects on humans and animals, and that significant environmental damages have occurred from failures of the o&g industry to maintain integrity in their processes and activities, whether by accident, negligence or outright intentional action.
The links below are to scientific studies and reports relating to human health problems caused by exposure to contaminated water, air and soil that were tained by the o&g industry during their exploration and production processes. These studies point to the need to more comprehensive and detailed studies by independent, objective research organizations to determine the full extent of risk factors for humans, animals and the environment. The prudent course forward would be to limit or ban all hydrocarbon exploration and production in and near densely populated urban areas until it can be objectively proven that such activities can be safely done, and sufficient safeguards are in place to assure that regulations will be stringently followed to insure protections for public health and safety and a clean environment.
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