Fracking health dangers have become a major issue in the last few years. As noted by the Associated Press, many people in government and science are concerned that fracking not only poses health hazards to humans, it could be damaging the environment as a whole and even causing small earthquakes.
How Fracking Started
The extraction of oil and natural gas has been a major industry in the United States for many years. Originally, this fuel was used simply to heat homes. With the advancement in technology, many different types of machinery, including electrical generators at power plants, automobiles, and home appliances have been designed to operate using natural gas.
But in recent years, it has become more difficult to find new sources of natural gas. So various companies have ventured into hydraulic fracking in the hope of producing more natural gas. However, the hydraulic fracking brings with it a host of environmental and health dangers.
Just What is Fracking?
It’s useful to understand what hydraulic fracking is in order to appreciate the environmental/health dangers it poses, as well as what solutions can be offered to reduce or eliminate the risks of hydraulic fracking – if any.
Hydraulic fracking is a widespread natural gas extraction method, particularly in the United States. Technological innovations in the United States enabled the extraction of natural gas from coal beds, sands, and different shale formations. Initially, companies only used the hydraulic fracking technique. This involves sending high-pressure liquids and chemicals vertically into the ground to release the gas underneath.
As years passed, this procedure was applied together with horizontal drilling. The collaborative procedures involving these two techniques have made possible the production of gas from geological formations where it would have not been possible before.
The Impact of Fracking
However, when used in concert the two procedures have increased the magnitude of the impact they have on people’s health and environment. For instance – in the area near the hydraulic fracking – the process often leads to contamination in the drinking water. Residents are also likely to experience gas emission exposure.
Plus, there is evidence that fracking creates seismic activity, and small tremors have been frequently recorded near fracking wells. More than this, people living near the area where drilling is performed are regularly exposed to air pollution, increasing the prevalence of certain illnesses, such as blood disorders, respiratory problems, cancer, and birth defects.
There no denying that fracking benefits the United States economy in many ways and has become the primary means for extracting natural gas. As noted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, more than half of all oil produced in the United States is also obtained through the fracking process.
Hydraulic fracking is also performed in other nations as well, with similar problems. The process of fracking itself has also changed in recent years in order to produce a higher volume of natural gas. The use of these high-volume fracking methods also makes uses up more local water, causes greater contamination and increases the carbon footprint of the operation.
To decrease the quantity of water utilized in stimulating shale-produced gas, production companies have introduced the use of foam technologies as an alternative. But these chemicals themselves represent a danger to the surrounding environment. Fracking seems like a no-win scenario when it comes to the environment.
To solve this issue, the industry says it is looking at new, more advanced technologies to reduce the impact of fracking, such as non-toxic chemicals to eliminate or reduce water usage and thereby decrease the industry’s environmental footprint. Also, the use of pipelines for transporting the natural gas is also considered as a feasible method to reduce the adverse impacts of hydraulic fracking. But whether this will really eliminate the fracking health dangers is an open question.
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