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Doctors Call For Fracking Moratorium

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Doctors are calling for a moratorium on fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, the method by which the earth’s shale is shattered to release natural gas and oil deposits.

The fracking debate has grown significantly in recent months as gas producers tout the benefits of domestic energy and improved economics. Environmental and health advocates argue that the financial benefits are dwarfed by serious short- and long-term health and environmental effects. Now, doctors in attendance at a conference on fracking are speaking out.

The doctors are calling for fracking moratorium in populated locations while the health effects of the process are better understood, said Bloomberg News. Pediatrician, Jerome Paulson, from George Washington University School of Medicine, has called for gas producers to create a foundation to fund fracking research, noting that independent research is needed, as well, wrote Bloomberg News. “We’ve got to push the pause button, and maybe we’ve got to push the stop button” on fracking, said Adam Law, an endocrinologist at Weill Cornell Medical College, who was speaking in an interview at the conference, Bloomberg News said.

While last year saw an increase in production, which brought with it an increase in supplies and a drop in prices of 32 percent, industry has been a bit closed mouth about the chemicals it uses in fracking, said Paulson, who expressed concerns over contaminated drinking water supplies and asked for peer-reviewed research on the effects of fracking, wrote Bloomberg News.

“We need to understand fully all of the chemicals that are shot into the ground, that could impact the water that children drink,” said Representative Ed Markey (Massachusetts), a senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in a telephone interview with Bloomberg News. Industry is attempting “to block that information from being public,” he added, wrote Bloomberg News.

The hazards linked to fracking chemicals are not fully known. “We don’t know the chemicals that are involved, really; we sort of generally know,” said Vikas Kapil, chief medical officer at National Center for Environmental Health, an arm of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at the conference. “We don’t have a great handle on the toxicology of fracking chemicals,” he added, said Bloomberg News.

Kapil noted that the government discovered anecdotal proof that fracking can cause contamination of water supplies and, noted that, in December, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported some of Pavillion, Wyoming’s underground aquifers and drinking wells contained compounds that likely came from fracking, such as glycols, alcohols, benzene and methane. Kapil also said that the CDC detected “explosive levels of methane” in two wells near Medina, Ohio drilling locations, wrote Bloomberg News.

Meanwhile, NewsInferno recently wrote that U.S. Geological Survey experts and other seismologists directly linked recent earthquake activity in Ohio and Oklahoma to nearby fracking activities. The epicenters of the Ohio quakes are not located in seismic areas and Geological Survey said that fracking activities there were bound to result in earthquakes.

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