What is Fracking?
Hydraulic Fracturing or Fracking or (HVHF) is the way the natural gas industry pulls our natural resources out of the earth in order to supply us with fuel. It is the process of injecting water and/or other base fluids mixed with mostly dangerous chemicals and sand into wells at extremely high pressure in order to extract oil and/or natural gas from the earth.
What is the Breast Cancer Risk?
We know that exposure to environmental contaminants and endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) during vulnerable periods of human development (in utero, early childhood, puberty), contributes to breast cancer risk later in life. Between 10,000 and 50,000 gallons of chemicals are used to frack a single well one time. At least 25% of the 700+ chemicals used in HVHF are linked to cancer. Another 37% are EDCs that interfere with our hormones and have been implicated in breast cancer and other diseases. A 2013 study of estrogenic chemicals used in fracking showed that “natural gas drilling operations may result in elevated endocrine disruptor compound activity.2 Endocrine disrupting chemicals which imitate estrogen have been associated with altering gene expression and developing tumors in the mammary gland of laboratory animal models. Researchers agree that estrogen plays a key role in the development of breast cancer.
Moreover, radioactive substances are unearthed during the fracking process. It then becomes waste, which is used in brine that paves roads for de-icing purposes and winds up as another toxic exposure in our landfills which could last up to 1,000 years. Radiation happens to be a known breast cancer risk factor.
Benzene is used for fracking and has been linked with breast cancer according to the Komen Foundation sponsored 2011 report: Institute of Medicine on Breast Cancer and the Environment: A Life Course Approach.
The fracking process requires excessive diesel trucking, 1000 truck trips per fracking well. Exposure to diesel exhaust or Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) have been linked with breast cancer in the 2002 federally funded Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project.
The use of these HVHF methods puts the health of entire communities at risk for many cancers and other chronic diseases. It compromises our environment and increases our exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. Many studies site the dangerous levels of toxic air pollution near HVHF sites and smog in rural areas where extraction of oil and gas occurs are worse than downtown Los Angeles, CA. The millions of gallons of water used in HVHF operations compromise our water supply and burden us with newly contaminated wastewater that needs to be disposed of safely and creates a hazard to our health if it is not. During HVHF extraction, processing and distribution of oil and gas, methane leaks and pollutes our environment thus increasing our risk for chronic diseases like breast cancer.
Howard Zucker, NYS Commisioner of Health wrote: “As with most complex human activities in modern societies, absolute scientific certainty regarding the relative contributions of positive and negative impacts of HVHF on public health is unlikely to ever be attained. In this instance, however, the overall weight of the evidence from the cumulative body of information contained in this Public Health Review demonstrates that there are significant uncertainties about the kinds of adverse health outcomes that may be associated with HVHF, the likelihood of the occurrence of adverse health outcomes, and the effectiveness of some of the mitigation measures in reducing or preventing environmental impacts which could adversely affect public health. Until the science provides sufficient information to determine the level of risk to public health from HVHF to all New Yorkers and whether the risks can be adequately managed, DOH recommends that HVHF should not proceed in NYS.”
As an addendum to this quote and referenced in this Politico news article below, In December 2014 Governor Cuomo banned HVHF in New York State.
Resources Websites about fracking: