Air Pollution at West Virginia Fracking Sites
While fracking has long been associated with fears of water supply contamination, a recent study raises new concerns.
The study, conducted by West Virginia University Public School of Health on behalf of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, found high levels of benzene and other pollutants in the air at seven fracking sites. The researchers found benzene levels at a of 85 parts per billion at a site in Wetzel County. The normal range is between one and 30 parts per billion. Benzene is a known carcinogen and causes leukemia. There is no safe level of benzene exposure however, the higher levels are associated with increased risks.
“Fracking”, the commonly used term for the hydraulic fracturing process, is a technique used to break (fracture) rock and allow gas and oil to be extracted. The process injects water, sand, and chemicals into hard shale rock under high pressure in order to break it up and extract the gas and oil trapped within.
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