Endocrine Disruption & Chemicals in Natural Gas Operatio

Endocrine Disruption & Chemicals in Natural Gas Operatio

Postby Oscar » Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:07 am

Endocrine Disruption & Chemicals in Natural Gas Operations

OVERVIEW: Endocrine Disruption - The Fossil Fuel Connection

http://www.endocrinedisruption.com/endo ... ilfuel.php

In September, 2010 TEDX released a one-page statement:


Extracting, processing, and burning fossil fuels (natural gas, oil and coal) introduces huge volumes of harmful chemicals into our environment. These chemicals, and the tens of thousands of chemical products synthesized from them, are now present in every environment on earth, including the womb. Extremely low concentrations of many chemicals can damage the endocrine system of our bodies by interfering with the intricate, delicate network of natural chemical interactions critical to healthy development and normal function.

Click here to download the full statement.

http://www.endocrinedisruption.com/file ... ection.pdf

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In 1991, an international group of experts stated, with confidence, that “Unless the environmental load of synthetic hormone disruptors is abated and controlled, large scale dysfunction at the population level is possible.”1 They could not perceive that within only ten years, a pandemic of endocrine-driven disorders would begin to emerge and increase rapidly across the northern hemisphere. Today, less than two decades later, hardly a family has not been touched by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, autism, intelligence and behavioral problems, diabetes, obesity, childhood, pubertal and adult cancers, abnormal genitalia, infertility, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s Diseases. TEDX’s findings confirm that each of these disorders could in part be the result of prenatal exposure to chemicals called endocrine disruptors. TEDX has also confirmed that the feed stocks for most endocrine disrupting chemicals are derived from the production of coal, oil, and natural gas. It is clear that endocrine disruption, like climate change, is a spin-off of society’s addiction to fossil fuels. Setting aside the effects of endocrine disruptors on infertility, and just considering their influence on intelligence and behavior alone, it is possible that hormone disruption could pose a more imminent threat to humankind than climate change. The urgency of the above conclusions provided the incentive for much of the work described on this website.

1. From the Wingspread Consensus Statement, as published in Colborn and Clement (1992). Chemically Induced Alterations in Sexual and Functional Development: The Wildlife/Human Connection. Princeton Scientific Publishing, Princeton, NJ. pp493.

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Cloudy with a chance of toxics: How climate change is increasing our vulnerability to chemical pollution

by Elizabeth Grossman


December 3, 2009 This guest post is by Elizabeth Grossman, author of Chasing Molecules: Poisonous Products, Human Health, and the Promise of Green Chemistry and High Tech Trash: Digital Devices, Hidden Toxics, and Human Health, and other books. She writes about environmental and science issues for the Washington Post, Salon, Mother Jones, the Nation, Grist, and other publications from Portland, Oregon.

One of the book’s jacket quotes is from the great environmental writer and founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben: “There are enough environmental problems that seem insoluble. Elizabeth Grossman has given us this chronicle of a field with a bright future, the green chemistry that will replace the crude methods of the 19th century with the smart ones of the 21st. She tells us how it could happen. We should listen carefully!“


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Chemicals in Natural Gas Operations

http://www.endocrinedisruption.com/chem ... uction.php


As natural gas production rapidly increases across the U.S., its associated pollution has reached the stage where it is contaminating essential life support systems - water, air, and soil - and causing harm to the health of humans, wildlife, domestic animals, and vegetation. This project was designed to explore the health effects of products and chemicals used in drilling, fracturing (frac’ing, or stimulation), recovery and delivery of natural gas. It provides a glimpse at the pattern(s) of possible health hazards posed by the chemicals being used. There are hundreds of products in current use, the components of which are, in many cases, unavailable for public scrutiny and for which we have information only on a small percentage. We therefore make no claim that our list is complete.

Toxic chemicals are used at every stage of development to reach and release the gas. Drilling muds, a combination of toxic and non-toxic substances, are used to drill the well. To facilitate the release of natural gas after drilling, approximately a million or more gallons of fluids, loaded with toxic chemicals, are injected underground under high pressure. This process, called fracturing (frac’ing or stimulation), uses diesel-powered heavy equipment that runs continuously during the operation. One well can be frac’ed 10 or more times and there can be up to 28 wells on one well pad. An estimated 30% to 70% of the frac’ing fluid will resurface, bringing back with it toxic substances that are naturally present in underground oil and gas deposits, as well as the chemicals used in the frac’ing fluid. Under some circumstances, nothing is recovered.

Drilling or reserve pits are found on most well pads. They hold used drilling muds, frac’ing fluids and the contaminated water (produced water) which surfaces with the gas. Produced water is found in most regions where gas is extracted and continues to surface for the life of the well (20 to 30 years). It is a common practice to haul it in “water trucks” to large, central evaporation pits. Many of the chemicals found in drilling and evaporation pits are considered hazardous wastes by the Superfund Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Upon closure, every pit has the potential to become a superfund site.

Potable and arable water resources in the West are already marginal and especially vulnerable to contamination. Mountain watersheds that provide drinking and irrigation water for vast numbers of people downstream are at risk of contamination as a result of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) leasing of hundreds of thousands of acres of underground mineral and gas resources to energy developers. Just as there is no accounting for what happens to the millions of gallons of fluids used to drill and fracture each well, there is no accounting for the source of the water being taken to complete these processes, how much of the fluid is water, and where and in what condition it is returned to the watershed.

In addition to the land and water contamination issues, at each stage of production and delivery, tons of toxic volatile compounds, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, etc., and fugitive natural gas (methane), escape and mix with nitrogen oxides from the exhaust of diesel-driven, mobile and stationary equipment to produce ground-level ozone. Ozone combined with particulate matter less than 2.5 microns produces smog (haze). Gas field produced ozone has created a serious air pollution problem similar to that found in large urban areas, and can spread up to 200 miles beyond the immediate region where gas is being produced. Ozone not only causes irreversible damage to the lungs, it is equally damaging to conifers, aspen, forage, alfalfa, and other crops commonly grown in the West. Adding to this is the dust created by fleets of diesel-driven water trucks working around the clock hauling the constantly accumulating condensate water from well pads to central evaporation pits.

All meaningful environmental oversight and regulation of the natural gas production was removed by the executive branch and Congress in the 2005 Federal Energy Appropriations Bill. Without restraints from the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act, and CERCLA, the gas industry is steamrolling over vast land segments in the West. Exploitation is so rapid that in less than 6 months in one county, 10 new well pads were built on the banks of the Colorado River, the source of agricultural and drinking water for 25 million people downstream. Spacing has dropped from one well pad per 240 acres to one per 10 acres. From the air it appears as a spreading, cancer-like network of dirt roads over vast acreage, contributing to desertification.

TEDX's manuscript Natural Gas Operations from a Public Health Perspective has been accepted for publication in the International Journal of Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Click here to download the manuscript.


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Click here to link to the Windsor & Colesville Oil & Gas Lease Coalition and Schlumberger websites for functional definitions and/or product classifications generally accepted by the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) Subcommittee on Drilling Fluids.


Click here to link to an industry video of the drilling and fracturing process.

http://www.api.org/policy/exploration/h ... racturing/

Click here to link to relevant articles by journalist Abrahm Lustgarten.

Click here to download a letter from Theo Colborn to the Bureau of Land Management, on the health effects of 2-BE used in coal bed methane extraction (pdf).

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Postby Oscar » Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:32 pm

Tiny Doses of Gas Drilling Chemicals May Have Big Health Effects


Authors of new study encourage more low-dose testing of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, with implications for the debate on natural gas drilling.
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ENDOCRINE REVIEWS: March 14, 2012:

http://insideclimatenews.org/sites/defa ... es/assets/
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By Lisa Song, InsideClimate News March 21, 2012

The higher the dose, the more dangerous the toxin—that principle is the basis for most regulatory chemical testing in the United States. But a new report shows that even low doses of some toxins can be harmful, and that finding could have implications for the long-standing debate over the chemicals used in natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

The toxins surveyed in the report affect the endocrine system, which produces hormones, the small signaling molecules that control reproduction, brain development, the immune system and overall health.

Although the report doesn't specifically mention hydraulic fracturing, a separate peer-reviewed study released in September identified 649 chemicals used during natural gas production and found that at least 130 of those could affect the endocrine system. They include petroleum distillates, methanol and other, more obscure compounds with names like dibromoacetonitrile and ethoxylated nonylphenol.

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals have been linked to a variety of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, fetal development and infertility. Babies and young children are particularly vulnerable, said Laura Vandenberg, a postdoctoral research fellow at Tufts University and lead author of the new report. It was published last week in the peer-reviewed journal Endocrine Reviews.

"I can't think of a single tissue in the body that isn't affected in some way by hormones," she said.

Many of the chemicals in question are manmade. The food-packaging additive BPA, which mimics estrogen, is probably the best-known example. Dozens of cosmetics, pesticides and industrial chemicals found in the environment also affect the endocrine system.

The earlier study, which identified potential endocrine-disrupting chemicals used in natural gas production, was led by Theo Colborn, an environmental health analyst who also co-authored the new report. Colborn began studying endocrine disruption in the 1980's and has spent the past eight years researching the health effects of natural gas drilling.

It has been difficult for endocrinologists to research fracking-related health risks, because much of the information about fracking chemicals isn't available to the public, said Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst at Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that advocates for public health. At least nine states have passed chemical disclosure laws, but all the regulations have loopholes that allow natural gas companies to keep the names or concentrations of certain chemicals as trade secrets.

Without an accurate understanding of how and where chemicals are used, "we don't know nearly enough ... to figure out the magnitude of human exposures and concerns," Lunder said.

Low-Dose Testing Uncommon

The new report confirms what scientists like Colborn have known for years—that small amounts of endocrine-disrupting chemicals can have big health impacts. Although the overall conclusion isn't new, the paper—which cites more than 840 research articles—is significant for its scope, said Louis Guillette, a doctor and endocrinologist at the Medical University of South Carolina who was not involved in the study.

"It's a monster review—it really has looked at a very large amount of literature out there," he said. The research cited came from laboratories around the world and includes experiments performed on cell cultures, animals and human epidemiologic studies. "This paper is critical because it's showing that there's a legacy, a history demonstrating that these are real effects, from many different labs."

Some endocrine-disrupting chemicals are already present in the environment at similar concentrations as naturally occurring hormones in the body. Since hormones function at concentrations of parts per billion or parts per trillion, "you can imagine that anything affecting it in a small way can have a drastic effect on health," Vandenberg said. She compared one part per trillion to a single drop of water in 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Yet the importance of low-dose testing has been slow to catch on in regulatory agencies. Researchers generally test chemicals by giving lab animals large doses of a particular compound to see if it kills them, Vandenberg said. The scientists then calculate a smaller dose that's considered safe for human exposure—but they rarely test the lower doses to see whether they, too, might cause health effects.

Guillette said that's because "the whole belief system of toxicology, which is put up in every introductory class, is that 'the dose makes the poison.' There's a perception that as you increase the dose, things become more toxic."

While that's true for effects such as death, cancer and certain birth defects, endocrine-disrupting chemicals can act in more subtle ways. Some symptoms take years to materialize.

"There are effects at low doses you don't see at high doses," Vandenberg said. The high-dose tests don't look for the effects on brain development, for example, or prenatal exposure.

"During fetal development, if you don't have the right levels of [hormones] in the thyroid, you can have severe mental retardation. And the difference between enough and not enough is a very slim margin."

Because children and developing babies are particularly vulnerable, the endocrine-disrupting chemicals used during natural gas drilling may disproportionately impact local communities, said Lunder of the Environmental Working Group.

"In a community, you want to limit exposures…because someone's generally pregnant, or there are kids around. Those effects may be less for the healthy [adult] workers who are handling these products."

The chemical industry and some scientists say more evidence is needed about how low doses of endocrine-disrupting compounds affect human health. Last week, the American Chemistry Council, an industry trade group, issued a statement in response to the new report, saying it "has committed substantial resources to advancing science to better understand any potential effects of chemical substances on the endocrine system."

"We hear all the time that 'the dose isn't high enough to be toxic,'" said Guillette, the South Carolina endocrinologist. "We're trying to get physicians in the U.S. to be aware of how important environmental exposures are to health."

Some regulatory agencies are already on board. Last week, the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives ran an editorial by the director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (part of the National Institutes of Health) that emphasized the importance of low dose testing. And in early 2011, a group of scientific associations representing 40,000 researchers wrote an open letter to the journal Science about "the growing recognition that currently accepted testing paradigms and government review practices are inadequate for chemicals with hormone-like actions."

Vandenberg hopes the new report can help regulators design better safety tests, and raise awareness of the importance of endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

"BPA has been a way for people to understand how small amounts of a chemical…could be having an effect," she said. "But in general, the public probably doesn't realize how widespread the problem is."

See Also

Secrecy Loophole Could Still Weaken BLM's Tougher Fracking Regs


New Waterless Fracking Method Avoids Pollution Problems, But Drillers Slow to Embrace It

Is Voluntary Disclosure of Fracking Fluids on the Internet Enough?
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