'High levels of a chemical found in oil and gas waste have been identified in shellfish living downstream from past fracking waste disposal sites.
Freshwater mussels filter water to feed. As they do so, they accumulate substances in their hard shells, effectively providing a record of any contaminants entering the water.
Researchers studying these creatures in Pennsylvania found strontium in their shells, a discovery they say demonstrates the long-lasting effects fracking can have on surrounding environments.
After scientists found that wastewater was contaminating waterways with toxic and naturally-occurring radioactive elements, the Pennsylvania authorities called on the industry to begin recycling its waste in 2011.
However, the mussels analysed by a Pennsylvania State University team still bore evidence of the three-year fracking boom that preceded those restrictions, when 2.9 billion litres of wastewater were dumped in the state’s rivers.
These contaminants did not vanish from the shells after 2011, suggesting strontium and various toxic contaminants were lingering in the environment.
“Freshwater pollution is a major concern for both ecological and human health,” said Professor David Gillikin, a geologist at Union College and co-author on the study. ”Developing ways to retroactively document this pollution is important to shed light on what’s happening in our streams.”'
Read more: Fracking chemicals found in animals living downstream from wastewater disposal sites
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14 July 2019
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