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Photo: Bosc d'Anjou
Photo: Bosc d'Anjou

Fracking chemicals linked to hormone disruption

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New research has found that the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing can disrupt the body's hormones.

A study published Monday in the journal of Endocrinology reported on results from water tested at drill sites where spills had occurred.

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Reported by

Kate O'Connell
Reporter, The Innovation Trail

They’re called Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, or EDCs, these substances that can disturb the body’s normal hormone function.

And, certain levels of exposure to this class of chemicals have been associated with cancer and infertility in adults.

Lead author of the report, Susan Nagel, says their study didn’t assess whether the levels at fracking sites could be hazardous.

But, lab tests show that EDCs can be dangerous, especially for children, she says.

“They are even more sensitive to lower levels and for more permanent types of effects, often, and similar types of effects certainly, on decreased fertility and increased risk of cancer etc.”

Nagel and her team looked at 12 known fracking chemicals in the lab, and determined that 11 of them could interfere with particular hormones.

They then tested water samples from spill sites in fracking-dense areas of Colorado. Results showed these sites had roughly double the hormone disrupting activity than the areas tested as controls.

“I’m not a public policy expert, and I do not know all the pieces of the fracking story. However, I do think it’s cause for concern that we do see this increased level of endocrine disrupting activity. It does suggest that when spills happen, we are contaminating water.”

Nagel say water samples from the Colorado river were also analyzed as part of their research and they showed moderate levels of EDCs. She says this indicates that contamination from spills at fracking sites can spread to other water sources.

EDCs are found in a range of regular household products and substances, but generally at levels too low to be harmful.

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