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Home arrow Health arrow Best practices for environmental health : environmental pollution, protection, quality and sustainability
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Best Practices for Erosion

Control soil erosion and prevent loss of nutrients by: maintaining a soil cover preferably with crop residue; allowing for maximum water infiltration and storage; providing vegetative banks of ditches and channels; sloping roads appropriately; using grass areas wherever possible near roads; and using windbreaks to control wind erosion. Slow the flow of water where possible.

Extraction of Resources

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a process in which a well is drilled and a steel pipe is inserted into the well bore with holes in the bottom and then a liquid under pressure is inserted to overwhelm the natural pressure and fracture or crack rock underground to release gas or oil. This process, which is currently producing a large amount of natural gas, has several potential environmental concerns. They are:

  • 1. Air quality issues, including the release of volatile organic compounds, other hazardous air pollutants, and greenhouse gases into the ambient air. This occurs when organic compounds go into the air from the wastewater, from spills, from the gas or oil being recovered, and from the chemicals being used in the fracking process.
  • 2. Contamination of ground and surface water occurs from spills, poor well construction, etc.
  • 3. Disposal of large quantities of contaminated water is costly and overwhelms existing facilities.
  • 4. Improper use of sewage treatment plants for disposal of the wastewater may affect the efficiency of the plant and allow raw sewage to go into the receiving stream.
  • 5. Potential destruction of habitats and marine life from exposure to toxic chemicals.
  • 6. Potential illness of humans from exposure to toxic chemicals may result from ingestion, inhalation, or direct contact with the skin or eyes. There is a potential for acute or chronic disease of the various body organs.
  • 7. Sand and proppants (agents used to hold open hydraulic cracks in a rock formation) which also contain their own contaminants are used in the fracking process and therefore become a disposal problem.
  • 8. Shale gas wells wastewater from extraction that contains high levels of total dissolved solids and naturally occurring radioactive materials may become part of stormwater disposal and entering surface bodies of water.
  • 9. Surface and groundwater issues where the substantial withdrawal of water for drilling and hydraulic fracturing affects other water uses.
  • 10. Toxic chemicals, some of which are potential carcinogens, are either found in the hydraulic fracturing fluids or may be part of the resulting oil or natural gas produced in the well.
  • 11. Use of surface pits or ponds for storage of the wastewater.
  • 12. Use of underground injection wells and possible contamination of aquifers used for drinking water supplies.

Best Practices for Extraction of Resources (See endnote 7)

Reduce problems associated with extraction of resources by:

  • 1. Improving the scientific knowledge of the effect of hydraulic fracturing on water supplies and the potential for health hazards short-term and long-term in people by:
    • • Analyzing existing data of over 25,000 wells in the oil and gas industry
    • • Analyzing 12,000 specific wells for chemical use and water use in a registry operated by the Groundwater Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission
    • • Analyzing the well operators’ records of hydraulic fracturing in 333 oil and gas wells in the United States
    • • Developing realistic computer models on drinking water supplies from surface and groundwater sources
    • • Utilizing the information from laboratory results of drinking water supplies, toxicity assessments, and case studies of existing problems, to complete the data-gathering process and analyze all this material to determine Best Practices
  • 2. Determining if there are clusters of disease or predisease conditions in areas where hydraulic fracturing has been previously used
  • 3. Ensuring that there is a proper permit for use of diesel fuels in hydraulic fracturing
  • 4. Ensuring that stormwater does not cross the area where hydraulic fracturing is being utilized
  • 5. Ensuring that wastewater is properly disposed of either through underground injection, surface impoundments for storage or disposal, recycling of the wastewater, or least of all the use of municipal treatment plants
 
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