Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Colo. study of fracking spill sites finds chemicals linked to infertility, birth defects and cancer

"Water samples collected at Colorado sites where hydraulic fracturing was used to extract natural gas show the presence of chemicals that have been linked to infertility, birth defects and cancer," according to a study by researchers from the University of Missouri and the U.S. Geological Survey published in the journal Endocrinology, reports Neela Banerjee for the Los Angeles Times. "The study also found elevated levels of the hormone-disrupting chemicals in the Colorado River, where wastewater released during accidental spills at nearby wells could wind up."

Researchers tested samples of surface water and groundwater in western Colorado's Garfield County, which has about 10,000 wells, Banerjee writes. Tests were done "at five natural gas sites where spills of fracking wastewater had occurred over the last six years." Tests of 39 water samples found that 89 percent had estrogenic properties, 41 percent were anti-estrogenic, 12 percent were androgenic and 46 percent were anti-androgenic. Samples from the Colorado River showed higher levels than the control samples. Tests at sites where no fracking was conducted found lower levels of hormone-disrupting chemical. (EPA map)

Researchers also "conducted laboratory analyses of 12 fracking chemicals that are used in Colorado to extract oil and gas. They found that the chemicals were endocrine disrupters that could interfere with human sex hormones," Banerjee writes. "Katie Brown, a spokeswoman with the industry advocacy group Energy In Depth, dismissed the study as 'inflammatory'." (Read more)

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