American Medical Association calls for disclosure of fracking chemicals

Doctor's stetoscope
Source: DollarPhotoClub

Concerned about the inability to effectively monitor and track possible long term public health and environmental changes associated with hydraulic fracturing, The American Medical Association (AMA) – the largest association of physicians; both MDs and DOs, and medical students in the United States – voted last Tuesday to adopt policy supporting the full disclosure of chemicals used in the process.

“Most states do not require drilling companies to publically disclose what chemicals are injected into the ground during hydraulic fracturing, said AMA Board Member David O. Barbe, M.D. “The new AMA policy supports disclosure requirements to monitor any environmental exposure to fracking chemicals and advise or treat patients based on reliable information.”

The new AMA policy also supports the requirement that government agencies record and monitor the chemicals placed into the environment for extracting petroleum, oil and natural gas. Monitoring for fracking chemicals should focus on human exposure in well water and surface water and government agencies should share this information with physicians and the public.

At present, the attitude of oil and gas companies toward disclosing the chemical make-up of their fracking fluids is not uniform. Some companies, such as Chevron, Baker Hughes, and Third Energy, agreed to voluntarily disclose the chemical components of their fracking fluids. However, when it comes to Baker Hughes, the situation is further complicated by the fact that the company was acquired by Halliburton in November 2014 – a firm that considers such disclosure a breach of their trading secrets.

In the UK, the cross-party Environmental Audit Committee recommended in January this year that fracking companies must be made to disclose — in an accessible way — all of the chemicals used in shale gas exploration and production, and the potential risks they pose.

Adapted from a press release.

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