This paper explores the process and potential effects of hydraulic fracturing in a public health framework. It defines the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and public health by presenting the pathways and nature of contamination. It concludes by examining the potential effects contaminants may have on the human populations as well as offering recommendations for future studies and analysis.
Pathways of Contamination
It is believed that the potential health consequences of hydraulic fracturing begin at the start and last long after the operation has stopped (McDermott-Levy et. al. 2013:46), which makes it difficult to track where specific contaminates are originating in the process. This section aims to explore the different…show more content… ii. Surface Water
There are two kinds of water that exist on the surface-level as waste from the process of hydraulic fracturing. They are flowback and produced water. Flowback water contains several chemicals that are known to cause health effects such as skin, eye, and sensory organ damage (Finkel and Law 2004:784). The second is produced water, which is the water that is used within the well itself (Adgate 2014:7). Both of these waters are stored in either surface pits or sealed tanks prior to reuse and/or disposal. The main pathway to water contamination occurs when these wastewaters are improperly disposed of or poorly managed. These waters contain fracturing fluids and natural occurring contaminations (Moss et.al. 2013:4). The method of disposing of the water and brine extracted from the shale has the potential to affect the water quality of lakes, rivers, and streams; damage public water supplies; and overwhelm public wastewater treatment plants (APHA 2012:4). It is also possible that if spills or accidents occur the runoff will leak into the water supply, which would affect the drinking water quality.
b. Air contamination is another pathway that introduces chemicals into the environment during the process of hydraulic fracturing. It also releases unintended