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Fracking Really Isn’t So Bad

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Written by: James Conca

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When Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last year that hydraulic fracturing would be banned in the State of New York, he cited the lack of scientific data on public health effects. He also said more study needed to be done to determine where emissions were coming from in the fracking and extraction cycle.

That study has now been done. Chemists at the University of Texas at Arlington published a study that indicates contamination from fracking wells are highly variable but result more from operational inefficiencies than from the extraction process itself.

In other words, it’s sloppy drilling methods that are the worst part of fracking.

The study, “Point source attribution of ambient contamination events near unconventional oil and gas development”, was published on Friday in the Science of the Total Environment. The researchers found highly variable levels of benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylene compounds (BTEX) in and around fracking sites in the Eagle Ford shale region in South Texas. BTEX compounds in high concentrations can have harmful health effects in humans.

What was important was that the emissions were not from the fracking itself, but from a variety of onsite activities that were carried out in a poor or sloppy fashion.

Most studies on fracking have focused on rogue methane emissions. While methane is a potent greenhouse gas, rogue emissions do not have an immediate effect on human health because their concentrations are hundreds to thousands of times below what is required for acute health effects or asphyxiation.

But toxic vapors are another matter.

The authors presented an analysis of BTEX in the Eagle Ford shale region of southern Texas where fracking has increased enormously in the last decade. Using a novel mobile mass spectrometer mounted in the passenger seat of an electric hybrid car, real-time air quality measurements gave BTEX concentrations up to 5,000 parts per billion (ppb) originating from various onsite activities.

TAGS: Oil, Gas, Fracking

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Written by: James Conca
Click HERE to Read Article From Publisher
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