Saturday, 16 August 2014

Human health hazards of certain substances used in fracking

 Human health hazards of certain substances used in fracking

Judging by the results of a new study, many of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, a technology popularly known as fracking can harm not only the reproductive hormones in the human body but also the glucocorticoid and thyroid hormones, which are essential to maintain good health. Other recent research indicates that the chemical composition of wastewater generated by fracking could cause the release of tiny particles in lands that often strongly various heavy metals and pollutants are linked. Such a release would exacerbate environmental risks for accidental discharges.

The results of the first study were publicly presented at the congress of the International Society of Endocrinology (International Society of Endocrinology) and the Endocrine Society (Endocrine Society), ICE / ENDO 2014, held in the American city of Chicago. Founded in 1916, The Endocrine Society is the oldest in the world devoted to research on hormones and the clinical practice of endocrinology. Today, members of the Endocrine Society totaling over 17,000 scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in more than 100 countries. For its part, the International Society of Endocrinology (ISE), founded in 1960, is currently a community of about 70 national societies of Endocrinology, representing nearly 50,000 endocrinologists from around the world federation. The headquarters of the ISE is at the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds in the UK.

Among the substances known use in various sectors of industry fracking, 24 have been tested by the team of Christopher Kassotis, University of Missouri in the American city of Columbia, have blocked all the activity of one or more major hormone receptors. Elevated levels of hormonal disorder caused by such substances at levels as measured in the study, have been associated with many health problems, including infertility, cancer and birth defects.

Hydraulic fracturing is the process of injecting several chemicals and millions of gallons of water deep underground and at high pressure, to fracture hard rock and release natural gas and oil trapped. Kassotis warns that discharges of contaminated water from fracking operations can contaminate aquifers and even bodies of water on the surface.

In previous research, this group found that certain water samples collected from sites with documented discharges from fracking in Garfield County, State of Colorado in the United States, had moderate to high levels of activity EDC (causing endocrine disruption). This activity specifically blocked or mimicked the effects of female hormones (estrogens) and male hormones (androgens) in human cells. However, the water in areas far from these points showed little activad gasística EDC drilling on these two kinds of reproductive hormones.

Two new studies reveal the apparent dangers to human health of certain substances used in fracking.

The new study, which was funded, among others, by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) extended the original analysis to determine whether the intensive fracking substances other key hormone receptor changes receptor also estrogens and androgens. (Receptors are proteins in cells to which the hormone binds to perform its function.) Specifically, the researchers examined a type of receptor for a class of female reproductive hormone, progesterone, as well as those for glucocorticoids (a class important for the immune system, which also involved in reproduction and fertility) and thyroid hormones hormones. The latter class of hormones help control metabolism, normal brain development and other functions necessary for good health.

Among the 24 normal fracking substances that Kassotis and colleagues tested repeatedly as to the EDC activity in human cells, 20 blocked the estrogen receptor, preventing enlazase latter receptor and might be generated from natural biological response. Also, substances 17 inhibited the androgen receptor, 10 hampered the progesterone receptor, 10 blocked the glucocorticoid receptor and 7 inhibited the thyroid hormone receptor.

Kassotis clarifies that these substances have not measured in samples of local water, and it is likely that high concentrations examined did not appear in drinking water near drilling sites. However, he argues that certain mixtures of these substances work together, making their disruptive effects of hormones are worse than either substance alone, and that the examined water often contains mixtures of substances with EDC. "We do not know what could be the adverse health in humans and animals exposed to these substances consequences," says Kassotis, "but infants and children would be the most vulnerable because they are smaller and their metabolism lacks the ability to decompose these substances ".

The other study to which we referred at the beginning of this article has conducted Stoof Cathelijne team of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, United States, and its results were published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology , ACS (American Chemical Society, or American Chemical Society), founded in 1876, and today has more than 160,000 members.

It is known from previous research, that 10 to 40 percent of the mixture of water and chemical solution injected at high pressure into the deeper layers of rock during fracking operations eventually out to the surface again. Stoof and colleagues, studying the environmental impacts of this "return fluid" found that the same properties that make the mixture of water and chemicals as effective for extracting natural gas through hydraulic fracturing in shale or shale reservoir can also move tiny particles that are naturally connected to the earth, causing associated pollutants such as heavy metals are filtered out of the area subject to fracking.

Stoof and colleagues have explored the mechanisms of this release and transport. The colloid particles are studied (larger than a molecule but smaller than what can be seen with the naked eye), which adhere to the earth and sand because of their electrical charge.

In some experiments, glass columns were filled with sand and synthetic colloids of polystyrene. Then they filled in each column with different fluids: deionized water as a blank control option, and return fluid collected from a reservoir in which fracking operations have made. In experiments, it was tested with different flow rates and the number of colloids were mobilized measured.

They found that were released within 5 percent of colloids when columns filled with deionized water. That figure jumped to 32 and to 36 percent when they were filled with fluid return. Increasing the flow rate of fluid mobilized return up to 36 percent additional colloids.

Stoof team believes that this is because the chemical composition of the fluid in return reduces the intensity of the forces that allow colloids remain attached to the sand, to the point of causing them to be repelled by it.

This could cause the release of tiny particles in soils often contain heavy metals and pollutants, worsening environmental risks for accidental discharges.

1 comment:

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