Physicians Want Pause on FrackingJan 10, 2012 | Parker Waichman LLP
It's time to put a hold on fracking in the U.S. until its health impacts are better understood, some medical doctors say. The physicians were all attending a conference in Arlington, Virginia that’s the first to examine criteria for studying hydraulic fracturing, a controversial process of natural gas extraction.
"We are leaping before we are looking," said Jerome Paulson, of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children's Health and the Environment. "Those who are drilling and extracting ... have not done the human health research and ecological studies to assure that the process and chemicals they use are the least hazardous possible.”
Among other things, Paulson called on major natural gas drillers to set up a foundation to fund fracking research. He also advocated for more independent study of fracking public health impacts.
Paulson's group, along with Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy helped sponsor the conference. According to Reuters, the groups hope to set up a consortium to collect and assess scientific data on the effects of shale development on the public.
Other attendees pushed for a halt of fracking while its public health implications are studied.
"We’ve got to push the pause button, and maybe we’ve got to push the stop button” on fracking, Adam Law, a physician with Weill Cornell Medical College and head of Physicians Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, told Bloomberg News.
In hydraulic fracturing, fracking fluids are injected into the ground at high pressure to shake loose gas and oil deposits. Studies have shown that fracking fluids often contain some hazardous chemicals, including the carcinogen, benzene, and diesel. Opponents of fracking are concerned that this type of natural gas drilling could lead to pollution of vital drinking water sources. According to Bloomberg, anecdotal evidence has tied fracking to water pollution around the country, including Pennsylvania and Wyoming.