Fracking, or drilling for gas by hydraulic fracturing, has been associated with a growing number of health risks, especially when looking to the way in which it contaminates a region's water supply. This specifically occurs as, "in order to frack, an enormous amount of water is mixed with various toxic chemical compounds to create frack fluid. This frack fluid is further contaminated by the heavy metals and radioactive elements that exist naturally in the shale. A significant portion of the frack fluid returns to the surface, where it can spill or be dumped into rivers and streams. Underground water supplies can also be contaminated by fracking, through migration of gas and frack fluid underground."
Thus, fracking can pose a threat to local water resources, especially in areas where water is already scarce like the Barnett shale in Texas.
Moreover, drilling wastewater— that ends up in rural water supplies— is so poisonous, that when a gas company legally doused a patch of West Virginia forest with salty wastewater from a drilling operation, it killed ground vegetation within days and more than half the trees within two years. Although many companies are not obligated to disclose the chemicals they use, the Endocrine Disruptor Exchange (TEDX) has reported that out of those that have reported their chemical recipes, all have been found to include 353 chemicals that are not only highly toxic but cancer-causing in small doses as well. Some reported include, Benzene, Toluene, 2-butoxyethanol (a main ingredient to anti-freeze and oil dispersants), and heavy metals.
The dangerous implications of this wastewater has already been reported as it has been linked numerous times to livestock and family pet deaths across the country. Furthermore, many chemicals used in fracking have been documented to have deleterious health effects at small levels of exposure.
Though the industry has attempted to obscure evidence of well water contamination by fracking, multiple instances have come to light. For example, in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Ohio, and Wyoming, fracking has been linked to drinking water contamination as well as property damage. A study conducted by Duke University examined 60 sites in New York and Pennsylvania and found “systematic evidence for methane contamination” in household drinking water.
Water wells half a mile from drilling operations were contaminated by methane at 17 times the rate of those farther from gas developments. Although methane in water has not been studied closely as a health hazard, it can seep into houses and build up to explosive levels.