US scientists researching the effects of fracking have found that those living near drilling activity are at greater risk of suffering infertility, birth defects or cancer.
The study found that Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) had contaminated ground and surface water due to accidental spillage. These chemicals have been found to cause a number of medical conditions.
‘Many of [the chemicals used in fracking] disturb hormone function’
Dr Susan C. Nagel, the author of the study, said: “More than 700 chemicals are used in the fracking process, and many of them disturb hormone function,”
“With fracking on the rise, populations may face greater health risks from increased endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure.”
The research saw scientists examine 12 suspected endocrine-disrupting chemicals used in the fracking process and test their ability to block human reproductive hormones. They then collected water samples from areas close to drilling sites that experienced spillage or other accidents.
Samples were taken from Garfield County, Colarado, where more than 10,000 gas wells are in operation.
Contamination had occurred
Speaking on the results, Dr Nagel said: “Spills associated with natural gas drilling can contaminate surface, ground and drinking water. We found more endocrine-disrupting activity in the water close to drilling locations that had experienced spills than at control sites.
“This could raise the risk of reproductive, metabolic, neurological and other diseases, especially in children who are exposed to EDCs.”