Read the full article by Kristina Marusic (Environmental Health News)
“PITTSBURGH—For more than a decade, Bryan Latkanich has discussed his concerns about fracking chemicals contaminating the water and air near his home with anyone who would listen.
Latkanich is a resident of Washington County, Pennsylvania, one of the state’s most heavily fracked regions. In 2020, an Environmental Health News investigation found evidence that Latkanich and his son Ryan had been exposed to harmful chemicals like benzene, toluene and styrene.
Now, researchers have uncovered more harmful substances in Latkanich’s tap water —’forever chemicals.’
Last year it was revealed that these chemicals, collectively referred to as PFAS (per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances), have been used in U.S. oil and gas wells for decades. As far as the experts we spoke with know, this is the first time PFAS that may be linked to fracking have been detected in household drinking water.
The chemicals don’t break down naturally, so they linger in the environment and human bodies. Exposure is linked to health problems including kidney and testicular cancer, liver and thyroid problems, reproductive problems, lowered vaccine efficacy in children and increased risk of birth defects, among others.
Latkanich’s water smells strange and tastes bad, and his son Ryan has emerged from the bathtub or shower with sores on his skin. Latkanich and Ryan have both had a host of ongoing health issues over the last decade, including stomach problems, asthma attacks, rashes and eye irritation; and for Bryan, repeated hospitalization for kidney issues.
‘I’m wondering what this stuff does to your joints and your heart, and how it affects everything else I’m feeling,’ Bryan told EHN. ‘My kidneys are already shot. I just want these people to stop. They gotta stop poisoning people.’
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh recently tested water samples from multiple taps at the Latkanich home. They detected seven of the 14 PFAS they tested for.
‘What’s scary is that they didn’t just find one, they found a bunch of PFAS,’ Latkanich said. ‘They don’t even have guidelines on some of these yet.’
The chemicals, which are extremely water-repellent, are sometimes used in fracking fluid to make the chemical mixture more stable and to more efficiently flush oil and gas out of the ground at high pressure. There’s also evidence that the chemicals are used during initial drilling and other phases of oil and gas extraction, but companies aren’t required to disclose those chemicals, so there’s no way of knowing how widespread the practice is.
The new findings suggest PFAS contamination may represent yet another problem left in the wake of fracking. But a lack of transparency in the industry makes it impossible to track where the chemicals have been used. And secrecy about ingredients throughout the supply chain for drilling and fracking chemicals make it difficult to hold any one company accountable for PFAS contamination in drinking water, leaving people like Latkanich — and regulators and scientists — in the dark.” …