Processing Magazine

Fracking chemicals can act as hormone disruptors, researchers claim

December 18, 2013

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Researchers from the University of Missouri have claimed that water in the vicinity of fracking wells has strong hormone-disrupting properties.

Hormone-disrupting chemicals can be found in many consumer products, certain food products, water and soil and can have a significant impact on the body's endocrine system that produces and regulates hormones. When people are exposed to such endocrine disruptors, their body functions can be altered and various diseases and conditions can be developed, including cancer, infertility and birth defects, researchers explained.

For their study, the team of academics examined in laboratory conditions 12 chemicals that were commonly used in fracking and were either known to be endocrine disruptors or were suspected to have such properties. Researchers measured these chemicals' ability to block or mimic the hormones estrogen and androgen and found that 11 of them blocked estrogen hormones and one mimicked them, while 10 chemicals blocked androgen hormones.

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Additionally, the researchers collected samples of ground and surface water from several locations, situated various distances from fracking sites in Colorado. Those in the vicinity of drilling wells contained the highest levels of disruptors, the University of Missouri said on its website.

Susan Nagel, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and women's health at the University's School of Medicine, commented that 700 chemicals are used in fracking operations and, as fracking becomes a more common method for oil and shale extraction, the effect of endocrine disruptors may become more powerful.