Hydraulic fracturing blasts at least 29 carcinogens and other hazardous chemicals deep into the earth to break up shale formations and get at oil and natural gas, says a new report released yesterday by House Democrats. Known as fracking, the industry used 780 million gallons of drilling fluids between 2005 and 2009, reports the Wall Street Journal. Ingredients ranged from the dangerous to the mundane, including citric acid, salt, coffee grounds, and walnut shells. "It is deeply disturbing to discover the content and quantity of toxic chemicals, like benzene and lead, being injected into the ground without the knowledge of the communities whose health could be affected," says Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette.
The petroleum industry and government regulators have been at odds over revealing the chemicals involved in fracking, with the industry claiming that the information is proprietary. "[T]he only way that'd be relevant in a public-health context is if those materials were somehow finding their way into potable water supplies underground," says an industry spokesman, adding "they aren't, don't, and according to regulators, never have." Click for more on fracking. (Read more hydraulic fracturing stories.)