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Hydrofracking & Public Health Outline Basic Description of this Industrial process Key Issues of Environmental & Public Health Concern Involvement of Public.

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Presentation on theme: "Hydrofracking & Public Health Outline Basic Description of this Industrial process Key Issues of Environmental & Public Health Concern Involvement of Public."— Presentation transcript:

1 Hydrofracking & Public Health Outline Basic Description of this Industrial process Key Issues of Environmental & Public Health Concern Involvement of Public Health Professionals is essential 1) Primary Prevention 2) Action Public Health & Prevention strongly connected to Precautionary Principle.

2 Learning Objectives Understand why Fracking poses unique public health challenges Separate FACT from opinions Be able to identify several vulnerable populations & exposure scenarios Know how to access additional information on this topic Start thinking about the measures to protect the public from harm

3 History of Environmental Connection to Health Public Health beginnings– Great Sanitary Movement of the 19 th Century: Recognition that environmental conditions played a significant role in health a)Proper handling of animal & human waste b)Management & disposal of garbage c)Separation of industrial uses from where people live d)Housing & zoning standards Prevention of disease

4 Historic Roots of Public Health Populations not individuals Addressed Environmental Conditions Focused on Primary Prevention Success ! – the biggest improvements in public health were achieved

5 Environmental Protection Split from Health Agencies in the 20 th Century Brand New Environmental Laws– 70s Regulations became more complex Now--Limited joint efforts of Agencies Unfortunately, Public Health focus has been weakened or lost--- not unrelated to scarce $$$ for public health.

6 Shale Gas Conventional Unconventional

7 Process Description Uses High volumes & High pressures & lots of toxic fracking chemicals to open fractures & extract gas Up to 5 million gallons of water for each frack, Multi-stage drilling & fracking process. Intensive industrial process– costs 3X traditional drilling. Must be repeated as gas production declines. Lots of equipment, trucks, tanks, pits, chemicals, waste & wastewater. Methods are crude & aggressive– not well- controlled Often close to homes, schools,etc.

8 Hydrofracking or Hydraulic fracturing Definitions differ: Public– Hydrofracking is the entire complex industrial process from land clearing thru drilling, fracturing, gas recovery and eventual remediation of the site. Industry –Applies to just one phase of the process, that uses large amounts of fluid and high pressure to cause fractures in rock formations releasing gases.

9 Unique aspects of shale gas recovery vs. Conventional Technology– new, far more intensive & safeguards not yet developed Industry obtained exemptions from federal environmental laws States are playing catch-up with few resources Site Geology- not entirely known. Drill site can impact an area up to 2 mile radius. Potential for Permanent damage to drinking water aquifers Lack of solution to treat large volumes of wastewater. Public health impacts associated with toxins in water and air

10 Most Important Technology Issues Isolation of the Borehole from Drinking Water This is essential to prevent permanent harm to aquifer. Industry admits that failure of steel and cement casing is most common problem ( not fracking process) Cement is a well known problem in oil and gas industry– at heart of BP Gulf Disaster. Many of the toxic chemicals used are corrosive– casing longevity just 5 years Earthquakes could damage casing.

11 Site Geology Radius for horizontal drilling can be 2 miles (area of 12.5 sq. miles) Increased potential for vertical cracks, fissures in rock layers– pathway for toxins to travel to drinking water. Thousands of abandoned, unplugged wells exist in NY. Many turned over to EPA for plugging because NY did not have adequate funds.

12 Toxins in Fracking Fluids Congressional report 2011 (Waxman) found: 14 leading companies used 780 million gallons of hydraulic fracturing products containing 750 chemicals (not including water between ). 29 chemicals were in 650 products & included 1) carcinogens, 2) chemicals regulated under the Safe Drinking water Act for health risks or 3) those listed as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. Many products purchased off the shelf contained trade secret or proprietary chemicals million gallons contained at least one trade secret component.

13 Disclosure a Problem for Public health– TEDX study Only 14% of products provided data on % of ingredients. 43% of the products provided info on less than 1% of ingredients. Of 632 chemicals-- just 56% had CAS numbers. Study following serious blowout prior to fracking found toxic fluids used in drilling.

14 TEDX cont’d Immediate exposure effects - 75% of chemicals Include respiratory, gastrointestinal, liver and nervous system. Longer term Health effects: Nervous system-52% of chemical Kidney-40% Cardiovascular & Blood-46% Cancer- 25% Endocrine, Reproduction & Dev– 37%

15 No Good Solution for Wastewater Wastewater includes: 1) chemical additives 2) Salts & other toxins found in shale formations– heavy metals and radionuclides- arsenic, barium, radium NY seems reliant on Publicly owned treatment works or Sewage treatment plants, but they are not designed to remove or treat toxic chemicals. Effluent from these plants can impact drinking water intakes downstream, and fish. Other options: Recycling at site, Deep Well Injection & Road spreading --can impact surface water & wildlife

16 Findings at PA Brine Facility 2011 Univ. of Pittsburgh School of PH Effluent: Barium–14 times EPA MCL Strontium- 745 times EPA recommended level Bromide- 10,688 times the 100 ppb level of concern. Benzene- 2 times the EPA MCL 2-butoxyethanol- 9 times ATSDR acute exposure level for children Extensive PH recommendations made.

17 Air Emissions – associated with Acute & Chronic Effects Methane – ( no odor) explosive hazard, greenhouse gas Hydrogen Sulfide Volatile organic compounds- equipment leaks, evaporation, inadequate flaring Nitrogen oxides & Particulates from engines & Trucks Silica – primarily worker exposures, NIOSH study Ozone – VOCs & NOx Hazardous air pollutants & other air toxins Radon

18 Air Monitoring Rural Wyoming – higher Ozone levels than LA in winter. Barnett Shale area, TX- more smog-forming emissions than vehicles in Dallas-Ft. Worth metro area. Citizen Monitoring- revealing high toxic emissions. H2S—185 times level set by EPA Benzene times EPA cancer risk level Acrylonitrile times EPA cancer risk level

19 PUBLIC HEALTH Acute Hazards Explosions & Fire Well Blow-outs Chemical spills High Level Air Emissions Sudden drinking water contamination Chronic Hazards- Intermediate & Long-Term Lower level air pollution Soil & Water contamination Food contamination

20 Vulnerable Populations -- Workers Company Workers Subcontractor Workers– often temporary Transporters of solid & liquid wastes Emergency Responders- ambulance, police, fire Emergency room personnel Agency inspectors– Environmental & Health– state,county & local level Employees at Sewage Treatment Plants, Landfills

21 Oil & gas extraction industry Fatality rate– 27.5 per 100,000 ( ) Total – 716 deaths. Seven times higher than for all US workers. Highest exposures– Workers on site Hazard communication – essential for all Hi Silica levels found by NIOSH Continuous Air monitoring Leak inspections Limit time & exposure, esp. to neurotoxins Respiratory protection geared to hazard Showers for decontamination Temporary workers are particularly vulnerable.

22 Other Vulnerable Populations Children & Pregnant women Adults with pre-existing conditions & Elderly Animals- pets & farm animals Those in Facilities near gas drilling operations – schools, Health care facilities

23 Animals Bamberger & Oswald Drinking water & air exposures Animal Deaths – 17 cows within 1 hr. Still births & birth defects Situations – like case control studies – documented substantial differences between exposed & unexposed One farmer had 190 active gas wells within 5 miles– 2 were on his property Food safety concern raised & PH recommendations

24 Human Health Consistent symptoms – irritant effects- eyes, nose, throat, cough Headaches, dizziness, balance problems, other nervous system Severe nose bleeds, Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

25 Confirmations– Severe Health Effects Coma, organ failure, Cardiac or respiratory, permanent neurological ER & hospital records Lab tests for toxins in blood or water supply – Frequent– arsenic & barium Barriers to diagnosis: Lack of full disclosure of chemicals Testing for poisons often does not include organic chemicals.

26 Public Health Action Needed to Prevent Harm First Line of Defense was dismantled with exemptions from Environmental Laws 2 nd - Override of local zoning ordinances NY State DEC cannot fill the gaps after over a decade of budget cuts & reduced workforce Industry will not volunteer to be a good neighbor– Requirements are necessary

27 Health Professionals Needed ! Education– workers, all vulnerable populations Better Monitoring Required Reporting Full disclosure of chemical ingredients- Secrets prohibited Targeted Surveillance Investigations & Research

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