Popular fears about hydraulic fracking  might not be as far-fetched as critics have claimed.
A professor at Cornell  University has documented dozens of cases of animal deaths in several states that may have been caused by fracking.
Fracking may also be causing illnesses and reproductive problems in both human beings and animals, molecular medicine Professor Robert Oswald says. Oswald was so alarmed by what he found that he told a British newspaper that he thinks Great Britain  should limit fracking.
“Farmers living in intensively drilled areas should be very concerned about potential exposure of their crops and herds to shale gas contaminants in the water, air and soil,” Oswald told the British journal The Ecologist.
Oswald said that fracking  in Britain and Northern Ireland should be halted until its effects on farmland, livestock and food supplies are determined.
Study Provides Evidence of Fracking Danger
Oswald’s opposition to fracking  stems from a study of animal deaths in six states he and colleague Michelle Bamberger, a veterinarian, conducted. The study was published in New Solutions: a Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy.
Some of the highlights of the study include:
- There were 24 cases in which animals, including livestock, pets and fish, were possibly affected by fracking.
- A rancher reported that half of one of his herds, 70 out of 140 cows, died when exposed to fracking fluid that drained onto their pasture. The rancher reported a high number of stillborn and deformed calves were born to the surviving cows.
- A farmer in Louisiana reported that 17 cows died within an hour of being exposed to fracking fluid. An autopsy revealed that the cows died of respiratory failure.
- Another farmer reported that 21 of 60 cows that drank water from a creek — where fracking wastewater may have been dumped — died. Sixteen of the surviving cows were unable to have calves the next spring.
Animals potentially affected by fracking include goats, llamas, chickens, dogs, fish and cats.
Oswald and Bamberger don’t know exactly how fracking affects animals. Oswald suspects that chemicals in the fracking fluid affect the animal, although he doesn’t know which ones do that.
“We are reporting short-term health changes, but no one knows what the long-term health changes may be,” Oswald told The Ecologist, “especially those caused by low doses of chemicals.”
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