A major new scientific study has concluded that fracking poses a “significant” risk to human health and British wildlife, and that an EU-wide moratorium should be implemented until widespread regulatory reform is undertaken.
CHEM Trust, a UK-based charity working at UK, EU and International level to protect humans and wildlife from harmful chemicals, last week published a new scientific report called “Chemical Pollution from Fracking.”
Due to CHEM Trust’s concerns about fracking, they commissioned a detailed examination of the impacts of fracking with respect to chemical pollution. CHEM Trust’s particular concerns relate to chemicals with hormone disrupting properties, persistent chemicals that accumulate in organisms, the cocktail effect and the detrimental role of chemical exposures during development in the womb and in early life. CHEM Trust’s focus is on the toxic effects of pollutants, so their position excludes consideration of fracking’s effects on climate change and its potential to cause earthquakes.
The report concludes that there should be an EU-wide moratorium on fracking until all their recommendations are in place. It also warns of severe risks to human health if the new Conservative government tries to fast-track fracking of shale gas across the UK. The “scale of commercial fracking” unleashed by the Government’s eagerness to exploit the technique “should not be underestimated”, it cautions.
Some of these toxic chemicals have been linked to breast, prostate and testicular cancer in humans as well as coronary heart disease, the report says. It outlines how 38 fracking chemicals are “acutely toxic for humans” and a further 20 are mutagenic, or known or possible carcinogens.
The report gives specific examples of hazardous materials used in fracking, including chemicals “associated with leukaemia in humans” and “toxic to sperm production in males”. The trust warns it is “particularly concerned about the use of hormone-disrupting chemicals”.
The reports key recommendations are:
1) All chemicals used in fracking must be disclosed, with no provision for commercial confidentiality.
2) Stronger EU regulation of fracking is required, ensuring that Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) are required for all sites, chemical use is controlled and transparent, effective monitoring is obligatory and wastewater management is safe, including an absolute ban on disposal of wastewater by re-injection into the ground.
3) Regulations must protect the environment and people even when fracking wells are no longer used, including financial bonds to cover clean-up costs.
4) Effective monitoring and enforcement is essential to ensure that regulatory controls are followed. This means that regulators must have the resources to carry out these functions; this is a particular concern in the UK where the Environment Agency (EA) is experiencing substantial budget cuts.
Despite the call for widespread regulatory reform and more robust fracking regulations, a spokesperson for the Environment Agency insisted, “regulatory controls are in place to protect people and the environment.” 
The report said that fracking could potentially have a massive impact on the countryside and those who live in it – be it people, livestock or wildlife. The report stated that the potential scale of fracking operations is huge, creating major water pollution risks from the large amount of chemicals used, and wastewater generated. Alongside the water pollution risks, the report highlighted the serious risks of local air pollution and land pollution.
To read the report in full, please visit: www.chemtrust.org.uk/frackingreport