Breast Cancer Action opposes hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” because the practice exposes people to endocrine disruptors and carcinogenic chemicals that are linked to breast cancer.
Fracking is the process of taking millions of gallons of water, mixing it with tens of thousands of gallons of chemicals, and pumping the mixture underground at extreme pressure to break up rock formations and release oil or natural gas.
The fracking process exposes us to known carcinogens and endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Companies don’t have to disclose to the public the comprehensive lists of chemicals used because regulatory agencies allow companies to maintain their “trade secrets.” This makes it challenging to pinpoint which chemicals are used by any individual company or at any specific operation site.
In 2016, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified more the 1,600 chemicals used in the process of drilling and fracking. Of these chemicals, which also included what was found in fracking wastewater, 200 of them were deemed carcinogenic and linked to a myriad of health harms1.
A recent report revealed that PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals” because of their persistence in the environment, may be present in the fluids used during the fracking process. Other chemicals of concern include lead, formaldehyde, and benzene.
These chemicals used in the fracking process can leech into well water that rural communities depend on, and seep into underground aquifers, contaminating water supplies for people who live in far-off cities. There is also mounting evidence that fracking chemicals contaminate our food supplies when polluted water is used for irrigation or for cattle to drink. The chemicals used in the fracking process lack oversight, and there has been no comprehensive study or analysis to prove that fracking is safe, despite industry claims to the contrary. This is a growing industry that is capable of poisoning and polluting the basic necessities of life: our food and water.
We have long been committed to stopping cancer before it starts, in addition to supporting people diagnosed with the disease. To do so, we need to stop cancer-causing toxins from entering our world and bodies in the first place. Our effort to end fracking is part of this work to create healthier environments for all of us. As a breast cancer organization long concerned with the impact of unregulated toxic industries, without corporate funders to appease or please, we bring a strong health justice analysis to the movement against fracking.