In fracking, a mixture of chemicals, sand, and millions of gallons of water is pumped under high pressure into deep wells, to break up rock formations that would otherwise trap large amounts of oil and gas. Breaking up the rock releases the oil and gas so it can be extracted – but it can also allow the chemicals used to pollute the air we breathe and the water we drink. What’s worse, fracking companies are not required to disclose what chemicals they are using in their fracked wells – but we know that there are more than 600 chemicals they may be using, and studies say that more than 350 of these chemicals are linked to cancer, birth defects, and other serious illnesses.
Further, other chemicals involved throughout the cycle of fracking, from the construction of fracking sites through the transport of the extracted fuels to disposal of the wastewater and more can lead to toxic health threats to the air and water for communities near fracking sites. The social disruption that often follows the introduction of fracking can also lead to health problems throughout fracking communities.
The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) was deeply involved in New York’s historic decision in 2014 to ban fracking. CEH contributed expert testimony as well as co-authored a key report cited in the State’s decision to ban the deadly practice. Data from the study co-authored by CEH showed serious air pollution issues around fracking sites in 5 states, including sites with chemical levels that were hundreds of times higher than some current federal air quality safety standards. Another peer-reviewed paper co-authored by CEH in 2014 found that chemicals associated with fracking are linked to reproductive and developmental health problems, including miscarriages, infertility, and other serious problems.
New Yorkers can rest easier as a result of Governor Cuomo’s decision to have taken this brave, bold step to protect our children and families from the toxic effects of fracking. If it’s not safe for New Yorkers, why should we think it’s safe anywhere else in the country? Now it’s time for national action to move away from this technology that’s dangerous for our health and bad for the climate, and move towards healthier, renewable energy solutions.