New Report: Fracking Must be Phased Out to Protect Public Health May 1, 2022

Physicians of Social Responsibility, Concerned Health Professionals of New York, and the Science and Environmental Health Network have released the eighth edition of “The Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking.” The Compendium compiles evidence detailing the risks and harms of fracking, and major findings are summarized below.

Hydraulic fracturing techniques produce the majority of both U.S. natural gas and crude oil. However, fracking operations pose numerous threats to public health, the economy, and the environment. Further, these repercussions are disproportionately borne by marginalized populations, such as low-income communities and communities of color.

The process of fracking has innate engineering shortcomings including induced earthquakes, radiation releases, and methane leaks. Additionally, fracking causes toxic air pollution, often exceeding federal safety standards in communities near fracking sites. Air pollutants released include precursors of ground-level ozone and potent carcinogens such as benzene and formaldehyde. Fracking also depletes and contaminates precious water resources, including drinking water. Each day in the U.S., over two billion gallons of pressurized fracking fluids are pumped underground to extract oil and gas or to inject extracted wastewater into disposal wells. Fracking has led to groundwater contamination, and has altered the chemistry of surface water by increasing levels of toxic substances such as radioactive elements and heavy metals.

The public health harms associated with fracking are well established and vast, and include cancers, respiratory diseases, and harms to maternal/infant health. Fracking is also accelerating climate change through the release of greenhouse gases like methane, a significant contributor to global warming. The eighth edition of the Compendium has found that fracking cannot be practiced in a way that does not pose a significant risk to human health either directly or indirectly through the repercussions of climate change. These risks cannot be diminished by regulation, and a phase-out of fracking is thus the most appropriate course of action.

Please call on legislators to outlaw fracking in order to protect public health and the health of future generations. Read the full report here.