Secretive Fracking Processes Expose Texans to Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’

Oil and gas drilling techniques known as fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, have been credited with extracting far more oil and natural gas than previously thought possible. The process involves injecting large amounts of water, chemicals, sand and other ingredients in wells to create fractures in shale rock that widen openings and allow oil and natural gas to be harvested.

Dangers Associated with Fracking

This process can cause earthquakes, some of which have been deadly, and contaminate groundwater. A particular risk, though, is the nature of the chemicals used — and the lax requirements for disclosing which chemicals companies are using in their fracking processes. In Texas, the dangerous chemicals used in fracking include polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), dubbed “forever chemicals” because they never break down in the environment or in our bodies.

The rise of fracking has been important because fossil fuels still play a key role in the global energy supply, and this relatively new method of extraction has made oil and natural gas more readily available and extended our ability to use these energy-dense materials past previous estimates.

Energy Companies Rely on PFAS for Fracking

Physicians for Social Responsibility conducted a review of publicly available documentation of chemicals used in fracking in Texas and found that at least 43,000 pounds of PFAS had been used at fracking sites between 2013 and 2022. They also found that many more PFAS and other toxic chemicals may have been used at Texas fracking sites than previously reported because state regulations allow companies to withhold information about the nature and number of chemicals used if the companies deem that information to be a trade secret. The study found that 6.1 billion pounds of chemicals that were classified as protected trade secrets had been injected into wells, so the full extent of PFAS contamination in Texas is unknown.

The Dangers of PFAS

PFAS are widely used in consumer products, including nonstick cookware, exercise clothing, fast food wrappers, and construction materials. When these items are discarded into landfills, the chemicals can leach into groundwater, working their way into streams and lakes and our water supply. Incineration of trash may release them into the air. Because PFAS are so widespread, it is estimated that 98% of Americans have detectable levels of PFAS in their bloodstream.

These chemicals have been linked to multiple health concerns, including cancer, immune system deficiencies and impaired vaccine response, liver damage, increased cholesterol levels, preterm birth, low birth weight, low sperm count, and birth defects.

How We Help Birth Defects Victims

Seek justice with the help of our experienced birth defects attorneys. Our alliance of birth defects victims attorneys has represented people like you affected by birth defects caused by toxic exposure, aggressively fighting the corporate giants who failed to protect vulnerable workers. If you or a loved one was exposed to chemicals while pregnant and now have a child who suffers from a life-altering birth defect like spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, or cerebral palsy, we can help.