Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

What the Frack? Possible Health Consequences of Hydraulic Fracturing in Pennsylvania

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, is a high-pressure drilling process employed by natural gas and energy companies that injects water, sand and chemicals into rock formations thousands of feet below the surface. Chemicals used in the fracking process may prove hazardous to one's health.

Fracking is exempt from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act, so drillers are not required to disclose precisely what chemicals are being used in fracking fluid. But it is believed that the fluid is made of chemicals such as barium, strontium, benzene, glycol-ethers, toluene, 2-(2-methoxyethoxy) ethanol, and nonylphenol -- chemicals which may be toxic when they get into the water supply.

Recent allegations of water contamination in Pennsylvania's Susquehanna County have turned into a lawsuit involving numerous families who allege that the hazardous chemicals have seeped into their residential water wells. According to the filed complaint, tests by Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection uncovered high levels of barium, strontium and manganese.

Researchers in a recent study, "Natural Gas Operations from a Public Health Perspective," (scheduled for publication in the International Journal of Human and Ecological Risk Assessment) found that toxic chemicals, such as the ones suspected in fracking fluid, can affect sensory organs (such as the skin and eyes), the respiratory system, the gastrointestinal system, and the liver. While there is no direct proof of fracking fluid causing specific health problems, it is believed that inhalation of or exposure to toxic chemicals including in natural gas drilling operations such as fracking could cause damage to the brain and central nervous system.

The complaint filed in Susquehanna County court alleges that at least one of the plaintiffs has become physically ill, with symptoms of neurological damage consistent with toxic exposure to heavy metals. According to the lawsuit, other families live in fear of future physical illness and injury -- especially for their minor children.

If you and your family are exposed to fracking or have natural gas drilling operations near your home, and fall ill, seek immediate medical assistance and contact an attorney. An experienced attorney will make sure that your rights are protected and you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

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