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Hydraulic Fracturing FAQs

What's in fracking fluid?

 

Fracking fluid is a toxic brew that consists of multiple chemicals. Industry can pick from a menu of up to 600 different kinds. Typically, 5 to 10 chemicals are used in a single frack job, but a well can be fracked multiple times, and each gas play consists of tens to hundreds of thousands of wells - driving up the number of chemicals ultimately used. Many fracking chemicals are protected from disclosure under trade secret exemptions. Studies of fracking waste have identified formaldehyde, acetic acids, and boric acids, among hundreds of others.(fn)

For each frack, 80-300 tons of chemicals may be used, selected from a menu of up to 600 *different* chemicals. Though the composition of most fracking chemicals remains protected from disclosure through various "trade secret" exemptions under state or federal law, scientists analyzing fracked fluid have identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene - all of which pose significant dangers to human health and welfare.

Industry says it's misleading to suggest 600+ chemicals are used in a fracking operation since only a small percentage of this number of chemicals is used per well. But this "one-well" model is the biggest misrepresentation of all: fracking operations in a gas play typically consist of many thousands of wells. Cumulative impacts are what matter.

 

Next Question: How much water is used during fracking operations?

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