Saturday, September 26, 2009

Gas-extraction chemicals dangerous
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 ( 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.

To read this letter in its originally published site, CLICK HERE.



  1. This article is so one-sided that its hard to comment. It paints the energy companies as being malicious which they are not. First lets look at any industrial chemical and you'll find a lot of the things posted in this article. I'll give you a common one, Formula 409, I bet just about all of us have used this to clean oil and grease off of the grill. Up until 2 years ago it listed EGMBE as an ingredient and it carries all of those dangers listed in this article. The parent company for this and many other household chemicals are moving away from these sorts of products, but their not there yet. The next time your janitor comes to your office to clean, or for that matter you're own home cleaners, check the MSDS. The MSDS stands for material safety data sheet. Its a requirement under the Right To Know Act that all employers provide workers with a full disclosure of what they are working with. It provides full accountability. So I'm not sure whre this author is getting off saying that the energy companies are not being forthcoming with information, its out there for all to see. There are even online sites like where you can get millions of products disclosed. Come on, lets keep this in perspective, its only fair.

    Oh yeah, one last thing, the next time you fill up your auto with gasoline or diesel, check out the MSDS on those, you will be surprised at how often you put yourself at risk simply filling your car with fuel.

  2. The problem with gas drilling as it is proceeding is the scale of it. The pollution and dangerous chemicals from household products or gas pumps, etc., are bad enough. However, what we face now is many, many more times the chemicals in air, soil, and water than ever before. There comes a point beyond which our bodies and the Earth cannot cleanse themselves fast enough or adequately enough to remain healthy. I think this is the biggest problem with gas drilling. Yes, we already live in a chemical world, but we are fast approaching critical mass. If we don't pay attention, we may be sunk. I think it is going to be up to us, the citizens, to be the eyes and ears of humanity. The DEP can't do it all, and the gas companies are, of course, not going to do much, if anything, to keep us safe.

  3. Thank you Peacegirl. Moreover, the chemicals in question are being pumped under intense pressure in huge volumes into the earth, where the danger is that it will contaminate our aquifers. Contamination is already being demonstrated, and occurrs even in production, killing cattle in Louisiana, causing the biggest fish kill ever in a W. Virginia creek, as well as creating all manner of serious anomalies/health problems for humans and animals alike. Perhaps if you were more aware of the dangers inherent in hydrofracking for gas you wouldn't be attempting to argue this author's cautions or veracity.
    As for the handling of gasoline, or any toxic substance for that matter, because we come in contact with it does not mean that doing so is as good for you as eating spinach, and it also does not mean that we should simply accept or encourage the use of toxic substances in our lives. Air, water and land are vital, lifeline resources. We cannot live without them. Polluting and/or destroying them beyond
    remediation is not acceptable methodology for any reason.

  4. Hi I think you are doing a really good job on this and I am doing a science project to show how bad the chemicals in the water really are. I was very impressed at what you have done and I think that this is a great website and more people should be reading this. So if you can email me email Thanks.



Natural gas development in Colorado, the impacts on communities, environment and public health. A primer for public servants and residents of counties that care for their lifestyles.

Drilling for Gas in Bradford County, PA ... Listen!

Cattle Drinking Drilling Waste!

EPA... FDA... Hello? How many different ways are we going to have to eat this? ... Thank you TXSharon for all you do! ... Stay tuned in at


A film by Txsharon. Thank you Sharon for all you do. Click HERE to read the complete article on Bluedaze: Landfarms: Spreading Toxic Drilling Waste on Farmland

SkyTruth: Upper Green River Valley - A View From Above