News & Politics

Hydraulic Fracturing: Is There Bad Science in The Fracking Debate?


Does fracking make people sick?

The jury is largely still out on that one.

However, new info indicates that some claims about hydraulic fracturing’s reportedly significant health risks appear to have been based on bad science.

The Associated Press has the details.

Researchers told the newswire that claims linking fracking to increased breast cancer rates are misleading, if not wrong outright:

“For example, reports that breast cancer rates rose in a region with heavy gas drilling are false, researchers told The Associated Press.

Fears that natural radioactivity in drilling waste could contaminate drinking water aren’t being confirmed by monitoring, either.”


Said Avner Vengosh, a Duke University prof who studies groundwater contamination (and who has gotten shit from both sides): “The debate is becoming very emotional. And basically not using science” on either side.”

For example, fracking opponents — such as Gasland director Josh Fox — often claim that breast cancer rates have shot up within the last 10 years in Texas’ Barnett Shale region, suggesting a correlation with the onset of hydraulic fracturing.

However, researchers have not detected this upswing.

Noted the AP:

“Researchers haven’t seen a spike in breast cancer rates in the area, said Simon Craddock Lee, a professor of medical anthropology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

David Risser, an epidemiologist with the Texas Cancer Registry, said in an email that researchers checked state health data and found no evidence of an increase in the counties where the spike supposedly occurred.

And Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a major cancer advocacy group based in Dallas, said it sees no evidence of a spike, either.”

Also uncertain: whether fracking brings up radioactive groundwater and fosters air pollution, as opponents have also claimed.

The recent report comes out shortly after the media could not figure out how to handle other fracking research.

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