Fracking fluid & PFAS

Last month the New York Times ran an article that highlights what scientists and the oil and gas industry have known for decades: fracking fluid contains life-threatening toxins that have polluted most humans and non-human primates as well as water, air and soil. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) do not break down because of the synthetic carbon-fluorine bond. They are endocrine disruptors and carcinogens, causing preterm labor, birth defects, childhood leukemias, thyroid problems, cancer and more. 

On the same day, Physicians for Social Responsibility released their epic report “Fracking with Forever Chemicals.” It documents PFAS use in more than 1,200 wells in six U.S. states. The so-called Halliburton Loophole allows these known toxins since Dick Cheney proclaimed fracking fluid “proprietary.” It is reminiscent of tobacco execs telling Congress that they did not believe that smoking causes cancer.

Here in Colorado, industry continues to deny these and other dangers of fracking despite widespread illness, death and destruction of the natural environment. In addition, air pollution from fracking makes people more susceptible to COVID.

Health effects take years to show up, similar to Agent Orange, uranium mining and smoking. The EPA also lists elevated cholesterol levels as one of the health risks from PFAS. We’ve been told high cholesterol is genetic, or related to red meat consumption or lifestyle choices. Whatever the cause, high cholesterol levels boost the profit of companies that make statins, which have their own side effects. Wouldn’t prevention, through consumer protections, make more sense?

PFAS are the same chemicals that DuPont used in Teflon as documented in Mark Ruffalo’s film “Dark Waters.” Perhaps they are in our surface and groundwater as they are in Garfield County.

– Dr. Lauri Costello, Durango