A systematic evaluation of chemicals in hydraulic-fracturing fluids and wastewater for reproductive and developmental toxicity, Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, doi:10.1038/jes.2015.81,
6 January 2016.
Hydraulic-fracturing fluids and wastewater from unconventional oil and natural gas development contain hundreds of substances with the potential to contaminate drinking water.
Challenges to conducting well-designed human exposure and health studies include limited information about likely etiologic agents.
We found a number of things that shouldn’t be in the water
said Zacariah Hildenbrand – researcher with Inform Environmental – to the huffingtonpost.
- We systematically evaluated 1021 chemicals identified in hydraulic-fracturing fluids (n=925), wastewater (n=132), or both (n=36) for potential reproductive and developmental toxicity to triage those with potential for human health impact.
- We searched the REPROTOX database using Chemical Abstract Service registry numbers for chemicals with available data and evaluated the evidence for adverse reproductive and developmental effects.
- Next, we determined which chemicals linked to reproductive or developmental toxicity had water quality standards or guidelines.
- Toxicity information was lacking for 781 (76%) chemicals.
- Of the remaining 240 substances, evidence suggested reproductive toxicity for 103 (43%), developmental toxicity for 95 (40%), and both for 41 (17%).
- Of these 157 chemicals, 67 had or were proposed for a federal water quality standard or guideline. Our systematic screening approach identified a list of 67 hydraulic fracturing-related candidate analytes based on known or suspected toxicity.
Some previous research suggest that even tiny doses of those chemicals released by fracking could pose serious health risks to pregnant women and developing fetuses, babies and young children.
Incorporation of data on potency, physicochemical properties, and environmental concentrations could further prioritize these substances for future drinking water exposure assessments or reproductive and developmental health studies.