Doctors Agree: Popular Energy Source Could Threaten Your Life

By Leah Zerbe

Water is life, but natural gas drilling is threatning this precious resource.

You've probably heard that natural gas is a cleaner-burning fuel. That's true. But top scientists and doctors are finding that the unconventional method increasingly being used to extract gas from deep underground (it's called fracking) is wrecking something even more important than fuel…clean drinking water.

And now, some of the nation's leading doctors are calling out the natural gas drilling industry, ordering companies to prove the method is safe before expanding operations into other states, including New York. Until that happens, experts with the Physicians Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy and Mid-Atlantic Center for Children's Health and Environment believe the process should be banned. "When it comes to hydro fracking, our guiding principle for public policy should be the same as the one used by physicians: 'First, do no harm,'" says endocrinologist Adam Law, MD, clinical assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. He and other concerned scientists and doctors met Jan. 9 to address the coordination of needed studies to better determine how natural gas drilling is impacting human health.

Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing or hydro fracking, is already taking place in many states, including Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Colorado, West Virginia, and Texas. Recently, earthquakes in Ohio and Arkansas have been blamed on injection wells where toxic, used fracking fluid is blasted and stored deep into the ground. Aside from water pollution, formerly pristine areas near natural gas compression stations have reported dangerous levels of air pollution.

Read More: 5 Facts about Fracking Every Family Needs to Know

The call for more research into human health problems associated with fracking comes as the public comment period to consider natural gas drilling in New York draws to a close.

Read More: Top 2011 Video Quickly Explains Fracking

Previously published studies have found that hydraulic fracturing mobilizes uranium in the ground, threatening water supplies, and creates an even greater climate change risk than other fossil fuels. Theo Colborne, PhD, founder and president of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, detected 649 chemicals in the fracking fluid used in the drilling process; half are linked to certain cancers, diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. Fifty-five percent of the chemicals cause brain and nervous system damage.

Despite these published studies, politicians have been wary of taking on fracking as an issue during a major election cycle. In fact, some Pennsylvania politicians are pushing to pass a law that would strip small communities of the right to zone against natural gas drilling activities.

To sign a petition calling for a national ban on fracking, visit Food & Water Watch.

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Note: The Rodale Research Feed features new research findings that may include preliminary or unconfirmed results. Check with a healthcare provider, or an appropriate advisor you trust, before making any significant changes based on these reports.

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