The EPA state d in 2004 that that "many chemicals in hydraulic fracturing fluids are linked to human health effects. These effects include cancer; liver, kidney, brain, respiratory and skin disorders; birth defects; and other health problems.

"BTEX [benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene]that has moved beyond the production well’s capture zone is of the greatest concern."

What was removed from the 2004 EPA study

I mportant information removed from the EPA's final study was received by the Oil and Gas Accountability Project through the Freedom of Information Act .

The draft version of the 2004 EPA study included calculations showing that even when diluted with water, at least nine hydraulic fracturing chemicals may be injected into underground sources of drinking water at concentrations that pose a threat to human health.

These chemicals are: benzene, phenanthrenes, naphthalene, 1-methylnapthalene, 2-methylnapthalene, fluorenes, aromatics, ethylene glycol and methanol.

In most other circumstances, these mixtures of chemicals would not be allowed to be injected into underground sources of drinking water.

Why do they need chemicals?

Chemicals are used to dissolve minerals and initiate cracks in the rock, e liminate bacteria, " slic k" the water to minimize friction, t hicken the water to suspend the sand, p revent scale deposits in the pipe, p revent clays from swelling or shifting and more.

According to the 2004 EPA study, "W ater with a simple sand proppant can be adequate to achieve a desired fracture at some sites. In some cases, water must be thickened to achieve higher proppant transport capabilities.

"Service companies have developed a number of different oil- and water-based fluids and treatments to more efficiently induce and maintain permeable and productive fractures. The composition of these fluids varies significantly, from simple water and sand to complex polymeric substances with a multitude of additives.

"Using diesel instead of water minimizes the number of transport vehicles needed to carry the liquid gel to the site (Halliburton, Inc., 2002). Diesel fuel is a petroleum distillate and may contain known carcinogens. One such component of diesel fuel is benzene."

Would you want to drink or breathe them?

Some websites try to dispel fears by explaining that chemicals used in fracking are commonly used, such as products used to clean swimming pools or sterilize medical equipment. Other chemicals are used in paint, caulk and plastic, or used to soften water and melt ice.

They're also found in laundry and dishwash ing detergents, household cleansers and soap . Some are used for hair coloring, cosmetics, toothpaste and antiperspirants. Others are used as food additives in baked goods, ice cream, sauces and salad dressings .

Consumers have the option to read food labels and product safety warnings. They can buy healthier food and personal care item s . They can protect themselves when using hazardous products . Do they have the same protection and choices with their water?

Fracking chemicals can also aerosolize when they are pumped back out of the well.

Water, sand and non-toxic additives

From a public health perspective, the best option is to fracture formations using sand and water without any additives, or sand and water with non-toxic additives.

Non-toxic additives are being used by the offshore oil and gas industry, which has had to develop fracturing fluids that are non-toxic to marine organisms.

W ells fractured with non-toxic fluids were found to be effective and less costly.

"Many of the problems associated with chemicals going " out of zon e" and into aquifers can be addressed by using non-toxic MSDS benign fracking chemicals and/or by greatly reducing the volume of fluids and chemicals employed, as with propane fracking."

-- by James L. Northrup who was in the energy business for over thirty years as a planning manager at Atlantic Richfield (ARCO), an independent oil and gas producer, and an owner of onshore and offshore drilling rigs.

The industry is making an effort

According to Drilling Contractor magazine's May/June 2001 edition, there are additional means of protecting water aquifers – environmentally conscious chemistry, monitoring the path of treatments using microseismics an d replacing biocides with ultraviolet light.

Halliburton has introduced CleanSuite technologies. In August 2011, a Halliburton executive drank fracking fluid at a keynote speech at conference presented by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA). Halliburto n' s CEO Dave Lesar, raised a glass of fracking fluid, made from materials from the food industry, he then asked a fellow executive to show how safe the fluid was by drinking it. What this executive apparently drank is a fluid called CleanStim, which was created by Halliburton.

Slumberger commercialized the OpenFrac fully disclosed hydraulic fracturing fluids, a family of fluids that avoid the use of analytes listed on the US EPA Priority P o llutants and National Primary Drinking Water Contaminants. "Operators receive full disclosure of additive components, a disclosure level similar to that used in the food industry."

Baker Hughes SmartCare System is taking a proactive step in trying to address all the various chemicals they might pump downhol e and ultimately have all those be green. Mr. Brannon, pressure pumping senior advisor for Baker Hughes, said, "We've been able to do so in the fracturing treatments without reall y addin g to the cost, which was a concern going in for us and for most operators."

Chesapeake's Green Frac program was founded in October 2009 to evaluate the types of additives typically used in the hydraulic fracturing process, to determine their environmental friendliness. After evaluations are completed, Green Frac calls for the elimination of any additive not critical to the successful completion of the well and determines if greener alternatives are available for all essential additives. To date, the company has eliminated 25% of the additives used in hydraulic fracturing fluids in most of their shale plays.

In December 2006, the Denver Post reported that Genesis Oil & Gas w ill use a "green" slurry while fracking on the slopes that hold the drinking-water source for Palisade and Grand Junction . It will be a mix of more innocuous substances such as citrus oils and other organic materials.

Antero Resources Corp. was one of the first energy companies to do green fracing in Colorado and defines its frac fluid mainly by what it isn't: "nontoxic, nonpolluting, nonhazardous and noncarcinogenic in the forms and concentrations being used on site." Antero used the green fluids as part of an agreement to drill around Rifle, Silt and New Castle in as safe and unobtrusive way as possible.

Patent applications: Pub. No.: US 2010/0181110 A1, July 22, 2010

Green directional drilling fluid - A drilling fluid composition for horizontal directional drilling is a flowable aqueous slurry of biodegradable, non-toxic, preferably edible plant particles, most preferably derived from materials such as beets, rolled oats, corn meal, cracked wheat, milo seed and tapioca.

Less use of water

Baker Hughes uses a process involving ultra-high quality foams to minimize the amount of water needed in the fracturing treatment by 95%, which also reduces truck traffic at the wellsite.

There is also a new waterless propane gel slurry that contains frac sand. It's used in the northeastern part of the country. The slurry is recovered in a gaseous form which reduces possible environmental impact.

In Colorado, draft regulations in Saguache and Elbert Counties require non-toxic substances

"Only non-toxic substances may be used in the hydraulic fracturing operations. The use of diesel fuel and know carcinogens and endocrine disruptors in fracturing fluid is expressly prohibited. List to be provided to the County at time of application."

If challenged in court, these regulations may be deemed an "operational conflict" with COGCC regulations, but these counties are taking a stand.

Proposed bill to require use of non-toxic fracking solutions in New York State

In July 200 8 , New York State Assemblyman Felix Ortiz sponsored B ill N umber A01265, along with many co-sponsors, which p rohibits the use of toxic fracing solutions during hydraulic fracturing. On January 4, 2012 it was referred to environmental conservation.

The purpose of th e bill is to require companies to use non-toxic fracing solution as part of a greater initiative to improve and maintain the natural beauty and ecosystem of the State of New York, in addition to safeguarding the health and safety of New York's citizens.

Are they really non-toxic?

"I think it's a public-relations thing," said Dr. Theo Colborn, president of the Paonia-based Endocrine Disruption Exchange and a nationally known researcher and author. Because there are no standards for "green" frac fluids, it's possible they could still be environmentally damaging. Like traditional frac fluid ingredients, the exact recipes for green frac fluids are considered proprietary and not released.

Some of the known organic materials being used in the green fluids, such as citrus oils, can be dangerous in higher concentrations. And some companies are advertising they are using "diesel-free" frac fluids, but the fluids still contain a hydrocarbon element such as kerosene.


EPA 2004 study - Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids cbmstudy_attach_uic_ch04_hyd_frac_fluids.pdf

Our Drinking Water at Risk DrinkingWaterAtRisk.pdf

EPA 2004 study Table 4.1 chemicals and health Table 4.1 cbmstudy_attach_uic_ch04_hyd_frac_fluids.pdf

Technology advances push greener side of fracing, Drilling Contractor magazine May/June 2011

What The Heck Is In Fracking Fluid, Anyway?

What chemicals are used


The Unique Environmental Impacts of Horizontally Hydrofracking Shale
The Unique Environmental Impacts of HF Shale.pdf

NY Times report on hydro fracking pollution – shocking!

Hydraulic Fracturing Best Practices

Western Slope drillers embracing "green" method

Even More on Propane Fracturing

Ortiz Focuses on Clean Environment

New York State Assembly -- Bill A01265 Summary


Fracking basics
what is fracking?
spread of fracking in Colorado
history of fracking
documentaries & videos

What goes wrong


faulty cementing
releases of gas
methane in water
fractures reaching aquifers
unknown causes

How fracking is harmful
air quality
Ultra Resources violations
water quality
lack of water in Colorado
food supply & livestock
health effects
explosions & fires

property values
quality of life

tourism & local economy
toxic waste
increased crime rates

What can be done?
proposed laws
Coloradans need an advocate
rewriting regulations
overcoming preemption
how to comment on a permit
less-toxic fracking
other energy sources

Take action now
meeting schedule
sample letters
addresses for letters

politicians' comments

Colorado Springs
& El Paso County
organizations & websites
history of drilling in El Paso County

organizations & websites

organizations & websites

About us
our mission
sign up for the latest news