Residents living downwind of fracking pits are likely exposed to airborne radioactive particles, new statistical analysis of public data shows
Although the levels measured in this case are not extremely dangerous, if they are inhaled regularly, scientists are concerned that they could cause health problems, such as lung cancer, in nearby areas.
Once these radioactive particles are in a person’s body, they can continue to emit ionizing radiation, possibly inducing oxidative stress and inflammation, even at the low levels observed
Fracking is known to produce radioactive waste, usually from brackish water gushing to the surface and bringing isotopes or uranium and radium from below
But the potential health effects of these particles are unclear and current literature is limited Despite many reasons for concern – including links to high-risk pregnancies, adverse birth outcomes, migraines, chronic rhinosinusitis and severe fatigue – radioactive drilling waste from hydraulic fracturing is « virtually unregulated » in the United States, and both presidential candidates support the practice
« If you asked me to go live downwind [of fracking sites], I wouldn’t go, » public health scientist Petros Koutrakis from Harvard University told The Guardian.
« People shouldn’t go mad, but I think it’s a significant risk that needs to be addressed »
Collecting more than 320,000 measurements of particulate radioactivity in air across the United States, the analysis found that communities 20 to 50 kilometers downwind of operational fracturing sites suffered more serious radioactive pollution The closer these communities get to the wells, the higher the levels of radioactivity
« With the adjustment of the environmental factors regarding the natural emission and movement of particle radioactivity, 100 additional windward fracking wells within a radius of 20 kilometers were associated with an increase of 024 mBq / m3 of the level of radioactivity in particles, ”writes the team in the study
Such radiation levels translate to around 7 percent above national background levels of 035 mBq / m3
But the worst-hit spot in the country appears to be Fort Worth, Texas, which had nearly 600 wells 20 miles upwind in 2017 Based on the team’s calculations, this could lead to an increase of 40 % of radiation levels above normal
The association is too important to ignore, and while more research is needed to identify possible causes, the authors suspect several factors, including accidental spills and the sneaky release of natural gas, as well as the management , storage and disposal of radioactive wastewater, radioactive drilling mud and cuttings
Another recent review of the potential risks of fracking found that radioactive pollutants could even be present in natural gas pumped into people’s homes if it is not stored long enough
It sounds really scary, but the authors say that with proper regulation of « exploratory drilling, gas capture and the use and storage of fracturing fluid », the risk to the environment and the public health can be minimized
While some states in the US and other countries around the world have banned hydraulic fracturing until further research is done, current analysis suggests there are still many communities in the states. – United where invisible pollutants in the air put people’s health at risk
« We hope that once we understand the source more clearly, there will be engineering methods to control this, » Koutrakis told Reuters
What is hydraulic fracturing
News from the world – UA – High radiation detected near US fracking sites worries public health experts
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