Fracking Activity Involves Many Carcinogens, Yale Study Shows

Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health have identified a number of fracking chemicals that have the potential to cause cancer. The findings, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, looked at compounds in fracking that can be released into the air and water, affecting nearby residents. Researchers were led by Nicole Deziel, Ph.D., assistant professor at Yale School of Public Health.

The researchers studied 1,000 chemicals used in fracking that can be released into the air or water. Dr. Deziel commented that this review of fracking chemicals is among the most inclusive. “Previous studies have examined the carcinogenicity of more selective lists of chemicals,” Deziel stated, according to an article posted on the Yale School of Public Health website. “To our knowledge, our analysis represents the most expansive review of carcinogenicity of hydraulic fracturing-related chemicals in the published literature.”

Some compounds suggest an increased risk of childhood leukemia, a disease that raises special concerns due to its severity and short latency period. A short latency period means that childhood leukemia can appear relatively quickly after exposure to a carcinogen. “Because children are a particularly vulnerable population, research efforts should first be directed toward investigating whether exposure to hydraulic fracturing is associated with an increased risk,” Deziel said.

Among the list of 1,000 chemicals reviewed, there was insufficient data on the cancer-causing effects of over 80 percent of them. Data existed for 119 chemicals; researchers found that 44 percent of water pollutants and 60 percent of air pollutants were confirmed or possible carcinogens. Since some chemicals can contaminate both air and water, a total of 55 unique compounds were identified as potential carcinogens. For 20 chemicals, there is evidence specifically linking exposure to an increased risk of leukemia or lymphoma. The results of this analysis provides researchers with a list of priority chemicals to focus on for future studies.

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