Candy S. DeBerry, Ph.D.
North Franklin Township
The identity of many of the chemicals and the proportions in which they are used in gas extraction from Marcellus shale are not really known. Of those that have been reported, the Endocrine Disruption Exchange (www.endocrinedisruption.org) states that 73 percent are known to be damaging to human health. Of the damaging chemicals, 95 percent affect the respiratory system - and remember that Washington County and Allegheny County [PA] already are among the 35 counties in the entire United States with the lowest (worst) air quality.
Furthermore, 44 percent of the potentially harmful chemicals are endocrine disruptors that effect development and reproduction. Think bis-phenol A and hard plastic water bottles; think lowered sperm counts in males and increasingly early puberty in boys and girls; think about the mounting evidence for a connection between endocrine disruptors and autism.
Other of these chemicals affect the brain and nervous system, the heart, the liver and the immune system. Approximately 30 percent are known to contribute to the development of cancer. Most of the effects are long-term and the extent of damage to human health won't be apparent for years or even decades after gas drilling has stopped.
Will the gas company clean all of the chemicals out of the water they use? They regularly dump enormous amounts of dissolved salt and other dissolved solids into the Monongahela River as brine water from fracturing operations. That's not counting the leaks and spills such as the one that killed salamanders, crayfish and other aquatic life in Cross Creek Park in May.
Not near the drilling operation? Don't breathe a sigh of relief - 45 percent of the chemicals known to harm humans are volatile. They'll get into the air and blow over everyone's property, well or no well.
And that $40-per-month that is a realistic average estimate for the amount you'll get for the gas they extract from under your property? Better think about saving it for future medical bills.
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