CONCERNS surrounding the potential effects of hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking) on public health and our environment have policymakers, industrialists and scientists looking to address critical questions about safety.
Toxicologists—scientists who study the adverse effects of chemicals on human, animal and environmental health—can provide some of the answers and have identified a number of areas of potential concern regarding fracking. Water and air pollution, as well as worker health, associated with hydraulic fracturing need to be investigated further, according to the Society of Toxicology (SOT).
SOT, which represents more than 7,700 toxicologists, says that determining what risks hydraulic fracturing may pose to workers, nearby communities and the environment is challenging. The geologic composition of the fracking site, types of chemicals used, storage and handling of produced and flowback water, machinery employed and other factors can work individually or together to produce ill effects. Toxicologists are trained to characterize the potential health effects of specific chemicals and complex mixtures of chemicals by investigating how they interact with each other and how their effects may be altered by other factors.
Many studies are under way to better understand how hydraulic fracturing may contribute to the contamination of water and air supplies. SOT members and other toxicologists are currently part of these efforts and will continue to stage new studies and develop predictive models to understand if there is potential for harm to public or environmental health.
To learn more, visit the Society of Toxicology website at www.toxicology.org. North American Precis Syndicate