Fracking and infertility

Submitted by Shelby D Burns Tue 01/07/2014

Oil Hydraulic fracking is a controversial drilling technique for many reasons. Not only is it believed to be bad for the environment, this process of capturing oil and natural gas uses many chemicals that can disrupt the body’s hormones and lead to significant health issues.

EDCs associated with infertility and birth defects

Substances which can interfere with normal functioning of the endocrine system are referred to as “endocrine-disrupting chemicals” or EDCs. EDCs can be found in all types of products: manufactured items, foods, air, water and the soil. EDCs exposure has been linked to infertility, cancer and birth defects.

700 chemicals used; exempt from federal regulations

“More than 700 chemicals are used in the fracking process, and many of them disturb hormone function,” explained Susan C. Nagel, PhD, of the University of Missouri School of Medicine and one of the study’s authors. “With fracking on the rise, populations may face greater health risks from increased endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure.

Androgens and estrogen affected

The study looked at 12 suspected or known EDCs used in natural gas operations and measured their ability to block the effect of the body’s male and female reproductive hormones. They took surface and ground water samples form sites with drilling spills in drilling-dense areas. They compared to a drilling-sparse area as a control site. Water samples from drilling sites had higher levels of EDC activity that could interfere with the body’s response to androgens, as well as the reproductive hormone estrogen. Little activity was measured from the sites with little drilling.

Children especially vulnerable

“Fracking is exempt from federal regulations to protect water quality, but spills associated with natural gas drilling can contaminate surface, ground and drinking water,” Nagel stated. “We found more endocrine –disrupting activity in the water close to drilling locations that had experienced spills than at control sites. This could raise the risk of reproductive, metabolic, neurological and other diseases, especially in children who are exposed to EDCs.”

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