Fracking has been one of the keys to helping the U.S. achieve its energy independence and become the world's largest oil and gas producer over the last ten years. But now, it looks like it may be coming with some unintended consequences, according to Reuters.
Researchers have found elevated radiation levels near U.S. hydraulic fracking drilling sites, according to a newly released study by Harvard researchers this week. The study looked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s radiation monitor readings nationwide from 2011 to 2017.
The study was published in Nature and found that areas within 12 miles downwind of 100 fracking wells had radiation levels that were about 7% above normal background levels. Readings can go "much higher" as you move closer to drill sites, the study reported. Radioactive particles can be inhaled and "increase the risk of lung cancer," Reuters noted.
Petros Koutrakis, who led the study, said: “The increases are not extremely dangerous, but could raise certain health risks to people living nearby.”
He also said that further study is needed: “Our hope is that once we understand the source more clearly, there will be engineering methods to control this.”
He attributes the radiation to "naturally-occurring radioactive material" rising to the surface as a result of the drilling.
The study also found that the largest increases occurred in places like Pennsylvania and Ohio, where naturally occurring radioactive material is found in higher concentrations than other states.
It's unclear whether or not this could become an election talking point with less than 3 weeks until the Presidential race. We already know where President Trump stands on fracking. If only Joe Biden and Kamala Harris could remember what, exactly their position is...