EPA Knows Fracking Chemicals To Be Toxic, But Approves It Anyway • Protecting Children’s Health

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Between 2012 and 2020, fossil fuel corporations were injected cancer risk per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFAS), or chemicals that can decompose in PFAS, in the soil while fracking for oil and gas, after former President Barack Obama approved the Environmental Protection Agency their use despite having agency scientists are concerned about the poison.

EPA approval in 2011 of three new compounds for use in oil and gas drilling or fracking which can later be broken down into PFAS, also calledforever chemicals, “It was not announced until Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) obtained internal records from the agency by request of the Freedom of Information Act, the New York Times reports Monday after checking the files.

Consistent with the new PSR report, “Fracking with‘ Forever Chemicals, ’” oil and gas companies including ExxonMobil, Chevron, and others involved in hydraulic fracture, or fracking, since 2012 have been pumping toxic chemicals that can become PFAS into more than 1,200 wells in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas and Wyoming .

While the Times noted that the newly released documents contain some of the earliest evidence of the possible presence of PFAS in fracking fluids, the PSR report warns that “the lack of full disclosure of the chemicals used in oil and gas operations increase the potential for PFAS.more widely used than the records indicate, both in geography and other stages of the oil and gas extraction process, such as processing -drilling, which precedes underground injections known as fracking. “

“It’s sad to see how much critical information about these chemicals is hidden from public view,” Barbara Gottlieb, director of PSR’s Environment & Health Program, said. SAYS Monday in a press release. “The lack of transparency about fracking chemicals poses a risk to human health.”

As the Times reported:

“In a approval order issued for the three chemicals on October 26, 2011, EPA scientists pointed to preliminary evidence that, under certain conditions, the chemicals can be” environmentally harmful. ” of substances similar to PFOA, a class of chemical PFAS, and can be ‘persistent in the environment’ and ‘toxic to humans, wild mammals, and birds.’ EPA scientists have recommended more testing. The tests are not mandatory and there is no indication that they are being done. “

“The EPA recognizes the serious health risks associated with chemicals proposed for use in oil and gas extraction, and even allows the chemicals to be used commercially without regard to regulation,” he said. Dusty Horwitt, a PSR researcher, told the newspaper.

In a statement released Monday, Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, called the PSR report is “alarming,” and says it “confirms how hundreds of scientific studies and thousands of pages of data have already shown in the past decade: the fracking of natural health and safety hazards in people and communities close to it, and it should be banned altogether. “

As the PSR states, PFAS – powerful toxins that accumulate in the body and persist in the environment – are a threat to human well -being and the environment. The adverse health effects associated with PFAS include short-term weight gain in the child, damage to the immune and reproductive systems, and cancer.

“The potential use of these chemicals in oil and gas operations should prompt regulators to take swift action to investigate how much they are used, routes of exposure, and if people are harmed, ” SAYS Linda Birnbaum, board-certified Ph.D. toxicologist and former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Science.

Hauter added that “nothing is said about this frightening impact of fossil fuel extraction and burning in the ongoing climate crisis. Fracking poses a threat to every person on the planet, directly or indirectly.”

According to the Times:

“Sa a 2016 report, the EPA identified more than 1,600 chemicals used in drilling and fracking, or found in fracking wastewater, including nearly 200 considered carcinogens or toxic to human health. The same EPA report warns that fracking fluid could escape from drill sites into ground water and leaks could be from underground wells that store millions of gallons of wastewater.

“Communities near drilling areas have long been complained about contaminated water and health problems which they say related. Lack of disclosure of what types of chemicals are present hinders diagnosis or treatment. Various peer -reviewed studies found evidence of diseases and other health effects in between people living near oil and gas sites, an unequal burden on which to fall people of color and other homeless or unemployed communities. ”

“The Obama-Biden administration approved the use of the toxic chemical PFAS for fracking a decade ago,” Hauter said, “and in recent years, President Joe Biden’s methods as if nothing had changed. “

“The Biden administration claims to be concerned about PFAS contamination across the country,” Hauter said. “Biden himself promised during the campaign to stop new fracking on federal lands. Meanwhile, this administration has approved new fracking permits at a pace similar to Trump’s, non-stop to be seen. ”

Earlier this month, EPA whistleblowers accused the Biden administration of continuing a “science war,” along with agency managers. kuno revising reports of hazards posed by chemicals and retaliating against staff who report misconduct.

Like Common Dreams reports, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility filed a formal complaint for four scientists in the EPA’s Office of the Inspector General, requesting an investigation into reports that senior staff members regularly removes important information from chemical hazard assessments or revises the conclusions of documents to give the impression that the chemicals in question are safer.

Calling revelations Monday about the Obama administration’s decision to greenlight the use of PFAS in fracking “a scandal that should precede every nightly news program,” Jamie Henn, co-founder of 350.org and director of Fossil Free Media, noted that “the full extent of the toxic chemicals used by companies in their fracking operations is not known.”

“Why did the EPA allow them to poison our communities without a conscience?” he asked.

Hauter called on Biden to “immediately make his vow to stop the new fracking of federal lands,” adding that “his administration must take urgent action to curb the use of PFAS chemicals and the deadly spread in our waters and communities. “

Originally published on Common Dreams.

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