Brittany Patterson Published

Study Finds Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals Near Fracking Wells

Morgantown Industrial Park

Dozens of chemicals that can affect the fertility of humans and animals are being found in the air near unconventional oil and gas development, according to a new study.


More than 200 chemicals have been found near unconventionally drilled sites, most-commonly fracked wells, according to a paper published today in the journal Environmental Health.

Carol Kwiatkowski, executive director of a nonprofit called the Endocrine Disruption Exchange, said that of those chemicals, 34 are known to be endocrine disruptors, or chemicals that interfere with hormone systems in mammals.

“Well-known hazardous air pollutants are being found near fracking sites and may be contributing to health outcomes that are being experienced by people living near fracking sites,” said Kwiatkowski, a co-author of the study. “The endocrine disrupting chemicals that are found at these sites may be contributing to health outcomes that won’t be realized for decades.”

Researchers reviewed more than 4,000 peer-reviewed papers. In total, they found 48 air sampling studies were conducted between 2003 and 2016. Texas’ Barnett Shale formation was studied the most. The Marcellus Shale formation in the Ohio Valley, was the fourth-most-studied area.

Chemicals known to cause cancer, and heavy metals such as mercury, were also found near oil and gas development. 

Researchers said more information is needed to know what the long-term health impacts of these chemicals are. An estimated 17.6 million Americans live near unconventional oil and gas wells.

For this paper, the researchers did not do any original experiments, rather they looked only at the already-published science. The study also does not draw a direct link between hormone-disrupting chemicals and oil and gas development. Instead, it shows studies have found these chemicals are often found near oil and gas development.