Study Links Natural Gas Drilling and Spills to Hormone Disrupting Chemicals

Jan 21, 2014

A drill rig in Garfield, County Colorado.
A drill rig in Garfield, County Colorado.
Credit Courtesy of Carol Kwiatkowski / Colorado Public Radio

Chemicals used in gas drilling work against our endocrine system, a network of glands and cells that release hormones into our bodies.  The chemical disrupters can effect fertility, sperm counts, cause breast and prostate cancer, compromise our immune system, and even contribute to obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.  

The University of Missouri studied surface and ground water samples from sites where a spill had occurred in Garfield County, Colorado, an area with more than 10,000 active natural gas wells.  They compared the data to areas of Garfield County where no spills had occurred and Boone County, Missouri with no natural gas wells.

Findings showed the hormone-disrupting activity was higher in samples where spills had occurred according to Colorado Matters.  

Carol Kwiatkowski, Executive Director of the Endocrine Disruption Exchange, a science-based advocacy organization in Paonia, Colorado, says the potential for adverse health effects exists, especially when products and practices that affect hormones are involved.  

Katie Brown from the national trade group Energy in Depth says endocrine disrupting chemicals are in so many products today that it’s unfair to pin their increase in the environment on natural gas drilling.  

The study was not linked to health, and researchers did not examine whether the chemicals actually made anyone in Garfield County sick.  

The results of the study were accepted by the Journal of Endocrinology.

The complete article written by Leslie McClurg for Colorado Public Radio can be found here.  

A podcast of the interview aired on Colorado Public Radio can be found here.