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People who live near fracking sites are reporting a wide variety of illnesses believed to be due to the toxic chemicals involved in hydraulic fracturing.

Report a Fracking Complaint

Hydraulic fracturing – commonly known as fracking – is a relatively new process of releasing oil or gas from underground by injecting fluid at high pressure, fracturing the rock formation in which it is trapped. As America has looked for additional sources of fuel, fracking operations have become profitable ventures coast to coast: there are 500,000 such wells in the U.S. Despite what some see as fracking’s advantages, serious risks to public health and the environment accompany this method of production.

The mission of PGMBM is to protect those who are injured by the negligence or misconduct of others – and this includes companies which pollute our air and water, causing injuries and death. If you live in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania and suffer from mysterious ailments, call our law firm right away at 1-888-348-6787 or use our online form. With our help, you’ll breathe a little easier.

Where do the harmful chemicals come from?

In the fracking process, millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals are forced underground to break apart rock and release oil and gas. A 2011 Congressional report listed about 750 chemicals and compounds used in fracking. ProPublica revealed that the list includes “29 chemicals that are either known or possible carcinogens or are regulated by the federal government because of other risks to human health.”

How do the chemicals get into the environment?

What about air pollution from fracking?

The wastewater ponds and condensate tanks release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), creating ozone (smog) that can travel up to 250 miles.

Some chemicals pollute the groundwater. During the fracking process, methane gas and toxic chemicals can leach out into the groundwater if the well becomes cracked by earth movement or temperature changes. Some of the toxic substances return to the surface after the well is complete. Prone to bacterial growth and contaminated with heavy metals, this wastewater must be treated and disposed of. It is frequently stored temporarily in open pits, whose liners may become torn, spilling the toxic brew into surface water. Additionally, improper disposal procedures have contaminated rivers and drinking water sources.

How can fracking be harmful to one’s health?

According to a report by the Center for Environmental Health, 25 percent of chemicals used in fracking have been linked to cancer. Residents living closer to natural gas wells are found to have higher risks for respiratory problems and disorders of the nervous system. Additionally, 35 percent of chemicals used in fracking disrupt the normal functioning of our hormones. These endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have been linked to a number of health issues, including infertility, impaired neural function, and suppressed immunity.

What chemicals are residents in fracking locations exposed to?

Some of the worst ones are:

  • Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Xylene, known to cause low birth weight, decreased head size and spina bifida. The EPA has classified Benzene as a Group A human carcinogen, and it has been linked to breast cancer. Pregnant women carry an increased risk of spontaneous abortion from exposure to Toluene.
  • Arsenic, which can cause stomach pain, nausea, partial paralysis and blindness
  • Manganese, a potential neurotoxin, causing damage to the nervous system and tremors similar to Parkinson’s disease
  • Acrylonitrile, a chemical used to make a wide variety of plastics, found to cause brain and stomach cancer in animals
  • Nitrogen oxides and ozone, responsible for low birth weight, delayed development, and learning disabilities.

Are there fracking sites in Pennsylvania?

The Marcellus Shale formation covers 104,000 square miles across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and New York. It is the largest source of natural gas in the United States. In 2012, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated that the Marcellus Shale area has 141 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas.

There are more than 4,000 Marcellus wells in Pennsylvania, and experts project rapid expansion of Marcellus drilling, estimating that 2,500 new wells will be drilled each year for a total of more than 100,000 over the next few decades.

How has fracking impacted our state?

The Marcellus shale formation contains naturally occurring radioactive uranium. The wastewater from gas and oil wells can contain 3,000 times the amount of radium deemed to be safe in drinking water. Most Marcellus shale wells in Pennsylvania send the fluids to wastewater treatment plants to be diluted and dumped into rivers – there are 14 such plants on the Monongahela River. A large number of Pennsylvania residents use well water – the only state having more is Michigan – so contamination of drinking water aquifers is a major concern. Pennsylvania landfills are also impacted by the disposal of materials by gas companies.

Have Pennsylvanians suffered any injuries from the fracking activity?

Regrettably, many residents near fracking sites in Pennsylvania have been harmed by “fraccidents” which contaminated their air or water. The Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air maintains a list of individuals who have reported medical problems suspected to be linked to living in a fracking zone. We have listed here only a few of the reported problems:

  • Washington County, PA – stomach, liver and kidney pain; nausea; fatigue and lethargy; mouth ulcers, rashes and blisters; inability to concentrate and light-headedness; nose bleeds; pneumonia; coma
  • Bradford County, PA – aches; nausea and bouts of vomiting; fingernails curling under; hair loss; headache and memory loss; eye irritation; intestinal cancer; enlarged spleen and ovaries; tremors; slurred speech
  • Butler County, PA – leukemia; rashes
  • Bedford County, PA – headaches; breathing difficulties; sore muscles; partial paralysis; skin reactions
  • Fayette County, PA – headaches; congestion and respiratory distress; rashes, blisters and lesions; hearing loss
  • McKean County, PA – rashes and burns
  • Greene County, PA – headaches and dizziness; nausea; nose bleeds; fatigue
  • Wyoming County, PA – contact dermatitis; gastrointestinal discomfort; numbness of face and hands.
Also, in the Greater Pittsburgh region, the prevalence of asthma is about 25 percent higher than the national average.

Is there any way an injured person can get compensation for a fracking injury?

People who are suffering from physical problems they believe were caused by exposure to toxic fracking chemicals can seek redress through the courts. Some have filed class action lawsuits. One such class action lawsuit, this one filed by victims in Oklahoma, accuses nearly 50 companies of having “generated, transported, disposed, released, or permitted the escape of hazardous and nonhazardous waste,” causing a plethora of health problems, including cancer.

Sometimes an individual tort claim is the best avenue for holding companies involved in fracking responsible for the harm they have caused. In addition to filing suit against the oil and gas company itself, other possible defendants are wastewater treatment plants, compressor stations, and the manufacturers of equipment which has failed to prevent leaking of toxic materials.

How can a lawsuit help?

Even though a successful lawsuit can’t cure the ailments or diseases caused by exposure to toxic chemicals, it can provide monetary compensation which can make life easier. A toxic tort settlement or jury verdict can include compensation for past injuries, the cost of ongoing medical treatment, and health monitoring to detect harm that may appear in the future.

PGMBM, Pennsylvania Fraccident Attorneys

The mission of PGMBM is to protect those who are injured by the negligence or misconduct of others – and this includes companies which pollute our air and water, causing injuries and death. If you live in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania and suffer from mysterious ailments, call our law firm right away at 1-888-348-6787 or use our online form. With our help, you’ll breathe a little easier.

Read More: Hydraulic fracturing FAQs