Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” is a process of extracting natural gas in gas shale deposits by drilling horizontally. The process involves injecting (with high pressure) sand, hundreds of chemicals, and millions of gallons of water into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well. While there are currently no active fracking projects in North Carolina, fracking in other states has been linked with air and water pollution.
How Fracking Impacts Air Quality:
Studies have shown residents living in the vicinity of fracking sites are exposed to numerous hazardous emissions. These emissions include neurotoxics and chemicals with known negative respiratory effects like benzene, xylene, trimethylbenzene. In addition to exposure to these toxins, other air hazards include:
- The mining and transport of sand and other particulate material used in the fracking process
- Emissions during flow-back stage, release both chemicals and naturally occurring hydrocarbons previously contained by shale, including methane and radon, a known carcinogen
- Hundreds of heavy duty diesel trucks per well site causes high levels of toxic diesel pollution in the community and contributes to the formation of ozone
Clean Air Carolina is concerned the rush to allow fracking in North Carolina will compromise the health of residents living near fracking sites and workers onsite. It’s Medical Advocates for Healthy Air initiative circulated a medical-sign on letter calling for a comprehensive health impact assessment (HIA) in counties with proposed fracking sites which garnered nearly 100 signatures.
For more information on Fracking & Air Quality, visit Clean Air Carolina’s Medical Advocates for Healthy Air website.
How Fracking Impacts Water Quality:
Fracking in North Carolina would bring to communities across the state an array of public health risks including near-term and long-term water pollution. Potential devastating impacts on our water include:
- Pollution of surface waters (from drilling fluids and other wastes that are brought to the surface in the drilling process);
- Groundwater contamination (from bad well construction and the fracking process);
- Strain on water supplies (fracking requires large quantities of water); and
- Hazardous materials spills (fracking fluids and fracking wastes)
- Use of dozens of toxic chemicals known to be cancerous to humans and wildlife, including benzene, a known contributor to lung cancer.
For more information on Fracking & Water Quality, visit the Catawba Riverkeeper’s website.