Before I took an AP Environmental Science class in high school, I had never really heard of hydraulic fracturing — also known as fracking. Fracking had not circulated enough in the news for me to have heard of its detrimental consequences, but my AP Environmental teacher was sure to teach me.
Fracking is a method used to extract gas and oil from shale rock by digging deep and directing a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals at the rock. This process has many negative environmental impacts, which I would argue far outweigh the benefits of the extraction of natural gas.
There has been a spike in the fracking news this past week after Pennsylvania announced it will spend $3 million to research the health impacts on workers and residents near fracking sites.
There has always been a suspicion that the spike in cancers near fracking towns have something to do with the natural gas extraction happening closeby.
But this research is useless — instead of wasting time confirming suspicions that natural gas extraction is poisoning people, we should be focusing on getting rid of it altogether.
Fracking has a vast amount of consequences and health concerns that are scientifically proven, such as the 1 percent of chemicals in the mixture that is sent into the shale rock. While 1 percent may seem low, the chemicals used are toxic and therefore 1 percent is more than enough to be extremely dangerous.
This impacts the water quality in nearby communities and poses a threat to air quality since emissions from the well often contain methane and hydrogen sulfide.
If the contamination of groundwater, methane pollution, air pollution, explosions and water waste are not enough, fracking can also create earthquakes.
There are obvious links between the chemicals being used and cancer. Of the 632 chemicals used in drilling operations, 40 to 50 percent could affect the brain/nervous system, immune and cardiovascular systems and the kidneys, according to a study by the Taylor and Francis Group as part of their Human and Ecological Risk Assessment in 2011.
The same study found an astonishing 25 percent of the chemicals could cause cancer and other mutations.
In Pennsylvania, dozens of children and young adults have been diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, which causes tumors within and around the bones and other forms of cancer in a four-county area surrounding Pittsburgh. This area is also where energy companies have drilled more than 3,500 wells since 2008, according to The Boston Globe.
We have known for years now how bad fracking is and yet governments are just starting to acknowledge that their citizens are getting cancers and illnesses from its effects.
There are people in this country suffering because we refuse to tell the truth about harmful energy extraction such as fracking — and this has been going on for decades now.
When it comes down to a matter of life and death, we should not be slowly looking into it to prove the science we have already been given. We should be listening to the existing science and ceasing all activity that we know is giving Americans cancer.