After decades of declining US natural-gas production, a new and powerful drilling technique that fractures rock with high-pressure fluid is opening up vast shale-gas deposits in Texas, Colorado and now many parts of the Northeast. Hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" injects tons of toxic chemicals into the ground in order to break up shale beds rich in natural gas. Researchers, health and environment experts, and community groups have expressed strong concerns about these chemicals contributing significantly to air and water pollution. The shale gas reserves, however, are seen by a number of companies, states and landowners as an enticing economic opportunity that could reap billions while lowering residential heating bills. The Environmental Protection Agency began public hearings last March to investigate the issue, and a number of citizen protests have recently been held in regions where fracking is already being undertaken or proposed.
This CHE Partner call on November 9th, 2010 featured four leading researchers in different fields of expertise who discussed the potential human and environmental health implications of fracking.
Featured speakers included: