Ammonia, Iodide Found in Waters Near Fracking Operations: Study

Researchers from Duke University warn that spills into U.S. waterways that are occurring from hydraulic fracturing operations, more commonly known as fracking, pose a serious risk to health and the environment.  

In a study published last month in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, researchers examined oil and gas wastewater (OGW) from fracking operations on the east coast. Two toxic substances were identified, ammonium and iodide, which are being introduced into waterways due to fracking.

Ammonium, when dissolved in water, becomes ammonia, which is toxic to fish and other life in rivers and streams. Researchers determined that levels of ammonium being released in OGW is 50 times higher than those allowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but fracking wastewater is exempt from such requirements, due to 2005 congressional energy legislation.

Did You Know?

AT&T Data Breach Impacts Millions of Customers

More than 73 million customers of AT&T may have had their names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers and other information released on the dark web due to a massive AT&T data breach. Lawsuits are being pursued to obtain financial compensation.

Learn More

Iodide is also of concern. While drinking water treatment processes usually kill most pathogens in the water going to our faucets, the exact same processes actually bind iodide to organic matter in the water we drink, which health experts say can increase the risk of cancer.

Researchers conduced testing on 44 samples of wastewater in New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia which receive water from fracking wells.

“Analysis of discharged effluents from three brine treatment sites in Pennsylvania and a spill site in West Virginia show elevated levels of halides (iodide up to 28 mg/L) and ammonium (12 to 106 mg/L) that mimic the composition of OGW and mix conservatively in downstream surface waters,” the researchers determined. “Our findings indicate that discharge and accidental spills of OGW to waterways pose risks to both human health and the environment.”

Researchers also warn that the discharges of fracking fluids could increase the risk of chlorinated by-products, pollutants created when chlorine, used to clean water, reacts with certain chemicals. These by-products have been shown to be harmful to human health.

Fracking Pollution Risks

Hydraulic fracturing involves the injection of a mixture of water, sands and fluids, the composition of which the gas industry has fought to keep secret, into the ground at extremely high pressure. This cracks open shale deposits and frees trapped natural gas, which can then be removed. Those fluids are then sucked from the ground and often disposed of in wastewater wells or through wastewater treatment plants.

Critics have linked fracking to a variety of pollutants, claiming it puts groundwater sources at risk and that increased truck traffic, air pollution and other problems can reduce property values and sicken nearby residents.

This latest study comes on the heels of a decision by the state of New York to ban hydraulic fracturing, after a state study found questions and concerns regarding the safety of large-scale extraction wells.

State officials said that a six-year study’s findings indicate dozens of significant potential adverse impacts, and found that the risks of high-volume hydraulic fracturing outweigh any potential economic benefits.

Environmentalists, a number of lawmakers, local communities and consumer advocacy groups have expressed concerns for years that hydrofracking presents a threat to groundwater supplies and the environment.

Last year, a Texas jury awarded $2.9 million in damages to a family who sued a hydraulic fracturing company for being a public nuisance. According to allegations raised in a fracking lawsuit filed by the Parr family, nearly two dozen wells near their property caused a private nuisance, exposing them to toxic chemicals that damaged their health and lowered property value.

Recently, a number of studies have shown that there may be a link between fracking and earthquakes, suggesting that the intense pressure from the unidentified fluids can cause ground tremors violent enough to damage property and cause injuries and possibly deaths.


Share Your Comments

I authorize the above comments be posted on this page*

Want your comments reviewed by a lawyer?

To have an attorney review your comments and contact you about a potential case, provide your contact information below. This will not be published.

NOTE: Providing information for review by an attorney does not form an attorney-client relationship.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

More Top Stories

Management of Ozempic Lawsuit Pretrial Proceedings To Be Reassigned Following Death of MDL Judge
Management of Ozempic Lawsuit Pretrial Proceedings To Be Reassigned Following Death of MDL Judge (Posted 6 days ago)

The judge overseeing Ozempic lawsuits consolidated in federal court has died, requiring a new judge to be assigned to oversee coordinated pretrial proceedings over claims the diabetes drug and similar medications caused stomach paralysis and other intestinal complications.