Reports and video showing flaming tap water from faucets near fracking sites populate the internet in abundance. But there were few studies done that showed a direct correlation between fracking and flaming faucets.
Household drinking water that comes from wells near known fracking sites contains levels of methane six times greater than what’s common elsewhere, a new study has found.Although every fracking well did not increase methane and other contaminants in the water supply. The possibility of substandard well cementing and sealing is the most likely explanation. And there is ample evidence cutting corners on cementing and sealing is an accepted methodology with the oil industry:
Researchers at Duke University sampled drinking water from 141 wells across northeastern Pennsylvania and southern New York and determined that the concentration of methane, the main component of natural gas, is much higher when those wells are within one kilometer of a hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” sites.
Fracking is a method of drilling deep into the Earth in order to extract natural gas and has seen an emergence in recent years as an increasingly popular process used by energy companies. That spread in popularity is not without opposition from environmentalists and activists, however, who fear fracking has detrimental effects on the Earth.
WASHINGTON — Halliburton officials knew weeks before the fatal explosion of the BP well in the Gulf of Mexico that the cement mixture they planned to use to seal the bottom of the well was unstable but still went ahead with the job, the presidential commission investigating the accident said on Thursday.
Although methane itself is non toxic, it can and will suffocate those that breathe oxygen. Plus it is explosive. Now imagine a leaky faucet, if there is methane in that water system the smaller lighter methane molecules will be passing through that leak as well.
Methane is nontoxic. It can, however, reduce the amount of oxygen in the air necessary to support life. Exposure to oxygen-deficient atmospheres (less than 19.5 %) may produce dizziness, nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness, and death. At very low oxygen concentrations (less than 12 %) unconsciousness and death may occur without warning. It should be noted that before suffocation could occur, the lower flammable limit for Methane in air will be exceeded; causing both an oxygen deficient and an explosive atmosphere.(...)Besides suffocating outright methane in lower concentrations will cause oxygen depravation and the resulting symptoms.
STEPS TO BE TAKEN IF MATERIAL IS RELEASED OR SPILLED: Evacuate immediate area. Eliminate any possible sources of ignition, and provide maximum explosion-proof ventilation. Use a flammable gas meter (explosimeter) calibrated for Methane to monitor concentration. Never enter an area where Methane concentration is greater than 1.0% (which is 20% of the lower flammable limit). An immediate fire and explosion hazard exists when atmospheric Methane concentration exceeds 5.0%. Use appropriate protective equipment (SCBA and fire resistant suit). Shut off source of leak if possible. Isolate any leaking cylinder. If leak is from container, pressure relief device or its valve, contact your supplier. If the leak is in the user’s system, close the cylinder valve, safely vent the pressure, and purge with an inert gas before attempting repairs.
Methane in its gas form is an asphyxiant, which in high concentrations may displace the oxygen supply you need for breathing, especially in confined spaces. Decreased oxygen can cause suffocation and loss of consciousness. It can also cause headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, and loss of coordination. Skin contact with liquid methane can cause frostbite.So if it is capable of suffocating it is also at levels where explosion is possible. Creating two threats to families near fracking operations. There was also evidence of other chemicals being in the water contaminated by methane but the study did not delve into those chemicals. And the fracking industry has been less than transparent about what sort of soup they are pumping into the ground.
If you think your health has been affected by exposure to methane, contact your health care professional.
For poisoning emergencies or questions about possible poisons, please contact your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.