Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Frack Chemicals are as safe as laundry detergent.....

If you ask folks around here (Upstate New York) what concerns them about gas drilling in the Marcellus shale, contamination of drinking water and groundwater aquifers usually tops their list. Given the number of brine spills already documented by DEC, not to mention the three frack chemical spills about two months ago just over the border, and you begin to understand the concern.

Cabot Oil and Gas had three spills at two of their wells. Eight thousand gallons of a water/gel frack mixture oozed across the soil and into Stevens Creek and into a nearby wetland. DEP slapped Cabot's hand, ordering them to halt operations for a couple of weeks and fining them $56,000 and change. But still, 8,000 gallons is a lot of frack gel to spill on the ground.

That same month Brad Gill, executive director of IOGA-NY tried to ease people's concerns about the potential contamination of water from chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. “These chemicals are no more dangerous than those found in personal care products and laundry detergent,” he said at a public meeting in Corning, and flashed a slide of the Materials Safety Data Sheet for a common household cleaner on the screen.

His point? That people use products containing chemicals similar to those used in fracking fluid every day. Brad isn't the only one to compare frack chemicals to the stuff you wash your face with each morning or toss in with the diapers.

Christopher Helman, writing in Forbes last month, noted that the acids, surfactants, petroleum-based lubricants, corrosion inhibitors and microbe-killers are "basically the same carcinogenic chemicals found in household cleaners Formula 409 and Drano." So maybe we shouldn't drink it, but basically it's not scary stuff.

But many of the chemicals in the shampoos, cosmetics and household cleaning products contribute to cancer. They contain chemicals that mimic hormones - such as estrogen - and these synthetic chemicals disrupt normal hormone behavior in our bodies.

There are environmental estrogens in shampoos, body lotions and sunscreens; they may be absorbed into our bodies through the skin. And cleaning products and laundry detergents may contain nonylphenol polyethoxylate, a surfactant that breaks down into an estrogen mimic. But there's a whole lot of difference between the 32-ounces of detergent I might spill in my laundry room and the 8,000 gallons of gel Cabot spilled in PA.

To read more about laundry detergent, fracking chemicals and cancer click here.



  1. That explains a lot, Sue. Obviously the proponents of "natural" gas have been drinking something strange. Maybe it's the hydrochloric acid and other "safe" chemicals in their fracking fluid.

    Keep up the great work!

  2. I've been making my own cleaning products for several years and I either make my own body products or buy organic.

    Next time Big Gas says frack fluid is so safe they will drink it, I've got a better idea: Let's use it to give them an enema!

  3. When pundits throw the word 'similar' around it annoys me to no end. Saying fracking fluids are similar to household products, has as much relevance as saying, diamonds are similar to coal.

    You are right. Household products and cosmetics aren't all that safe.