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The Harmful Effects of Fracking on Our Environment

Fracking is a process that uses a complex mix of toxic chemicals to fracture the earth’s shale layer. In doing so, it creates fissures that can open up and release oil or gas from below the surface.

These toxic chemicals can leak into our drinking water, air and land, and harm wildlife and people who live close to them. We must protect our environment from fracking and all forms of unconventional energy extraction.

Air Pollution

Fracking is a controversial process in which water, chemical additives and sand are pumped into deep wells to break open rock fractures and release natural gas. The chemicals and sand can cause air pollution.

When gas is burned to power machines at a compressor station, it emits nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide that can irritate the lungs and increase smog levels. It also increases ground-level ozone, which is linked to respiratory illness and heart disease.

In addition, fracking waste water is released into wastewater ponds and evaporates, releasing pollutants that can enter the air. Fish and other aquatic life are killed by the chemicals in fracking fluids.

According to a study published this year in Environmental Health Perspectives, people who live near a fracking site may experience increased skin and upper respiratory problems. Researchers also found that babies born close to fracking sites were more likely to be born with low birth weights than those born farther away.

Water Pollution

Hydraulic fracturing, the process of injecting water and chemicals underground to crack open gas-rich shale, can contaminate drinking water wells. In some cases, fracking has rendered private wells entirely unusable.

Moreover, fracking can contaminate surface water, including lakes and rivers, as it pumps wastewater into holding ponds or other disposal areas, where it can leak or be contaminated by equipment failures, spills or other problems.

According to research by a team of researchers from Duke University, chemical levels in drinking water near fracking operations are often higher than the limits set for safe drinking water. In Pavillion, WY, levels of benzine and methanol in a local water supply were 50 times and 10 times higher, respectively, than federally required standards.

Legal loopholes that exempt fracking from elements of the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Environmental Protection Agency’s hazardous-waste laws put communities near drilling sites at risk of contaminated drinking water, exposing residents to harmful health effects.

Land Degradation

Fracking is the process of extracting natural gas and oil by pumping water, sand, and chemicals into deep holes called wells. These wells are drilled to reach a layer of gas-rich shale that sits thousands of feet underground.

Once the well is drilled, a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals are pumped into the well at high pressures to create new fractures in the shale rock. The chemicals help the natural gas and oil seep out of the fractures.

The fracking fluid also contains toxic chemicals, including petroleum distillates like benzene and ethylbenzene, as well as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These toxic chemicals can contaminate water, soil and air, and cause a wide range of health problems at low levels of exposure.

Wildlife Degradation

Fracking is a dangerous process that poisons groundwater, pollutes surface water and degrades wildlife habitats. It’s also a contributor to climate change and increases greenhouse gas emissions.

When a shale rock formation is fractured, it releases toxic chemicals into the surrounding environment. These chemicals can harm the immune system, impair reproductive health and damage DNA.

This has been shown to affect wildlife in many ways: reducing breeding success and decreasing overall population sizes, for example. The decline of populations can lead to the loss of habitat, causing species to become extinct.

Another threat to wildlife is land fragmentation, which occurs when land is broken into smaller blocks and becomes harder to manage. This often results in habitat loss and degrades the natural processes that animals depend on, including fire and floods.

For example, a recent study found that shale gas drilling in West Virginia caused 12.4 percent of the region’s core forest to be lost. This was a significant threat to migratory songbirds, who need large blocks of forest habitat in which to nest.

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