High volume hydraulic fracturing operations: potential impacts on surface water and human health

This study investigated the impacts of high volume, hydraulic fracturing operations on surface water integrity, with human health consequences. High volume, hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) processes, used to extract natural gas and oil from underground shale deposits, pose many potential hazards to the environment and human health. HVHF can negatively affect the environment by contaminating soil, water, and air matrices with potential pollutants. Due to the relatively novel nature of the process, hazards to surface waters and human health are not well known. This study investigated the impacts of HVHF operations on surface water integrity, with human health consequences. Surface water contamination risks include: increased structural failure rates of unconventional wells, issues with wastewater treatment, and accidental discharge of contaminated fluids. Human health risks associated with exposure to surface water contaminated with HVHF chemicals include increased cancer risk and turbidity of water, leading to increased pathogen survival time. The authors concluded that future research should focus on modelling contamination spread throughout the environment, and minimising occupational exposure to harmful chemicals.

Authors: Mrdjen I, Lee J. ;Full Source: International Journal of Environmental Health Research. 2015 Nov 26:1-23. [Epub ahead of print] ;