Fracking has become a major industry in the United States, fueling a boom in oil production and energy independence. Although the industry is now facing financial trouble from low oil prices and a possible decline in popularity, litigation brought on by environmental groups could show that fracking can present a danger to communities in close proximity.
Several environmental and landowner groups have reached a settlement with the State of Wyoming and Halliburton over the disclosure of potentially harmful chemicals used during the fracking process.
This would make Wyoming the first state in the country to require such a disclosure and may shed light on whether or not residents and workers in the fracking industry are in danger from exposure to chemicals and harmful byproducts.
Are Residents Near Fracking Areas in Danger From Chemical Exposure?
In 2010, the federal government warned the residents of a small town in Wyoming not to drink the water and to use fans and ventilation when showering. An extensive investigation led by the Environmental Protection Agency found harmful materials that included benzene, naphthalene, phenols and methane in groundwater. The Department of Health and Human Services has determined that benzene is a carcinogen capable of causing leukemia.
Are Fracking Workers in Danger From Exposure to Harmful Substances or Chemicals?
Residents are not the only people potentially at risk from fracking exposure. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration released its own hazard alert on fracking, stating that workers in the fracking industry may be exposed to the inhalational of crystalline silica.
According to the OSHA report, inhalation of crystalline silica can cause silicosis, a lung disease that can cause inflammation and scarring, reducing the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen.
Given the history of fracking and chemical exposure, it may seem unsurprising that Wyoming has taken steps to enforce a law that will tell the public what chemicals are used in the fracking process.
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