More than 1,000 doctors and other health care professionals, many gagged from telling patients about fracking chemicals such as radiation, benzene and arsenic in air and water making them sick, told President Obama on Thursday to take steps needed to protect Americans from alarming fracking risks kept secret from the the public.
Photo above: Fracking opponents protest before the Tom Corbett inauguration to become the 46th governor of Pennsylvania at the state capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011.
Environment America delivered a letter Thursday with over 1,000 signatures from health care professionals asking Obama to declare a fracking ban on certain areas in the U.S. and ensure fracking is no longer exempt from environmental laws, like the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act.
The letter outlines secret dangers fracking poses to human health and the environment, including drinking water contamination, carcinogenic air pollution, acute and chronic health effects, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Each of those threats increasingly takes its toll on humans, according to the letter that includes the following explanations:
• Fracking operations have contaminated drinking water sources from Pennsylvania to New Mexico. Leaks and spills of fracturing fluid – which often contain known carcinogens (e.g. benzene) and endocrine-disrupting chemicals – have polluted rivers and streams. Other contaminants have flowed into residential wells. And fracking wastewater – often containing heavy metals (e.g. lead, arsenic) and radioactive materials (e.g. radon, uranium) – has leached from hundreds of waste pits into
• Air contaminants released from fracking operations include volatile organic compounds (VOCs); some are carcinogenic, and some damage the liver, kidneys and central nervous system. Researchers at the University of Colorado School of Public Health found thatpeople living within a half-mile of gas fracking wells had a higher excess lifetime risk of developing cancer than people living farther away.
• There are a growing number of documented cases of individuals suffering acute and chronic health effects while living near fracking operations – including nausea, rashes, dizziness, headaches and nose bleeds. Physicians reviewing medical records in Pennsylvania have called these illnesses “the tip of the iceberg” of fracking impacts on health; and
• Fracking operations release significant volumes of global warming pollution. Methane, which scientists now say is 86 times more potent than carbon as a greenhouse gas over 20 years, is released at oil and gas fracking wells, and also during the processing, transmission, and distribution of gas. Global warming presents a major threat to human health via heat waves, extreme weather events, flooding, water contamination, sea level rise, expansion…
“Given this toll of damage, the prudent and precautionary response would be to stop fracking,” the letter reads. “Instead, the oil and gas industry is seeking to expand fracking at a frenzied pace, even into areas that provide drinking water for millions of Americans.”
Gagging doctors, covering up fracking death and destruction
A report from Pennsylvania last year documented various health problems affecting residents living near natural gas operations.
In Pennsylvania, however, a gag order prevents doctors from telling their patients what chemicals from fracking solutions might be the cause of their illnesses.
The same has happened throughout the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Doctors were not only gagged, they were threatened with abuse if they told patients the truth about Corexit and oil making people sick, miscarry, unable to breathe, and even killing some people. (Vampire Of Macondo)
Shocking and heartbreaking experiences are provided in a video below by this author with Faulkner County human rights defenders. Fracking-related house explosions, suicides and miscarriages and infant mortality in Faulkner County have been hidden, according to the group of people who met with Dupré in Greenbrier in Jan. 2013.
The doctors’ letter to Obama highlights possible health effects of fracking, many well-documented but not easily accessible to the public.
It also notes the “growing number of documented cases of individuals suffering acute and chronic health effects while living near fracking operations – including nausea, rashes, dizziness, headaches and nose bleeds.”
The letter notes dangers of fracking wastewater, that has spilled and leached into groundwater in the past.
An October report found fracking wells in the U.S. generated 280 billion gallons of toxic wastewater in 2012, some of it radioactive. This wastewater is often stored in deep wells. Over time, however, many of these wells fail and contaminate water resources. In New Mexico alone, chemicals from oil and gas pits have contaminated water sources at least 421 times, according to the October report.
Right now, fracking regulations are largely left up to the states.
Earlier this year, the EPA did issue guidance on injecting diesel fuel into the ground during the fracking process, a practice which companies must get EPA approval for the most part, however, fracking laws vary widely from state to state.
California, in 2013, enacted one of the country’s stricter fracking laws. Among other things, it will require oil and gas companies to list chemicals they use in the fracking process online.
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