Veterinarian Michelle Bamberger and Cornell University professor Robert Oswald analyzed 24 case studies of farmers in six states where gas is produced and livestock "experienced neurological, reproductive and acute gastrointestinal problems after being exposed – either accidentally or incidentally – to fracking chemicals in the water or air," Royte writes. The article, published in New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, "describes how scores of animals died" over several years, she reports.
In New Mexico, hair testing of sick cattle that grazed near well pads found petroleum residue in 54 of 56 cows. In Louisiana, 17 cows died after an hour's exposure to spilled fracking fluid. In Pennsylvania, 140 cattle were exposed to fracking wastewater. About half of them died, and the remainder produced 11 calves, only three of which survived. An overflowing wastewater pit in Pennsylvania sent fracking chemicals into a pond where pregnant cows grazed. Half their calves were stillborn.
The overall death total is "insignificant when measured against the nation's livestock population," Royte reports. But, environmental advocates say these animals' deaths are an early warning sign for human health. "Exposed livestock are making their way into the food system, and it's very worrisome to us," Bamberger writes in the article. "They live in areas that have tested positive for air, water and soil contamination. Some of these chemicals could appear in milk and meat products made from these animals." (Read more)