The group Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy (PSE) declared they would submit a petition to the White House signed by 107 experts to …
The group Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy (PSE) declared they would submit a petition to the White House signed by 107 experts to urge the administration to slow down and consider the health effects of natural gas fracking before allowing any new permits..
They want the government to consider the two ethical principles adhered to by physicians: “do no harm” and that of “informed consent”..
The petition stems from the possibility that the Obama administration might “fast-track” the permits for LNG exports. LNG, or liquefied natural gas, comes almost exclusively from the fracking process. The government wants to build export terminals to sell the gas overseas, which would increase demand and production for fracked gas within our borders..
The main concern is with flowback water produced during the fracking process that comes back up to the surface. Companies still won’t reveal what’s in the chemical fluid mixed with water used to extract the gas citing a potential “loss of competitive advantage”..
Even with known chemicals, doctors and scientists are still studying the ways that public health could be put at risk by exposure. The flowback water from the wells poses a high risk to communities through both water and air contamination..
During a press conference, Adam Law, MD, at Cayuga Medical Center, talked about how certain chemicals act as endocrine disruptors, attacking people’s reproductive, neurological, and immune systems..
With certain toxic chemicals, the body can absorb up to a certain threshold without experiencing negative effects. However, Dr. Law described how many endocrine disruptors, which some of the chemicals used in fracking fluid are, can affect the body even at very low concentrations..
Even so, it’s not very well known how chemicals can accumulate over time in our bodies, and how that affects DNA mutation, causes problems like cancer and other deteriorative effects. This is a new field of study, called epigenetics, in which scientists are looking into cumulative effects of toxic chemicals and their effects on DNA..
There also haven’t been any studies on synergistic effects – the effects of chemicals when they are combined. Experts can test how each chemical affects the body singularly, but there have been no studies on what happens when people are exposed to toxic insults acting together..
Lastly, some experts believe that exposure through waterways is one danger, but are actually more concerned with exposure of chemicals and toxins from the fracking process through air pathways, which are less well-known..
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ozone, and methane all pose a threat to human health because they can enter the body directly through the lungs..
Based on these unknowns alone, there is no way we can abide by the ethical principles of “do no harm” and “informed consent” when experts don’t understand the totality of possible risks of exposure to chemicals the public isn’t completely privy to. We should not be thrusting economics and policy above the safety of human health…