American Chemical Society: A new look at what’s in ‘fracking’ fluids raises red flags but does not name the toxic chemicals of concern

A new look at what’s in ‘fracking’ fluids raises red flags Press Release by American Chemical Society, August 13, 2014

Scientists are getting to the bottom of what’s in fracking fluids — with some troubling results.

As the oil and gas drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) proliferates, a new study on the contents of the fluids involved in the process raises concerns about several ingredients. The scientists presenting the work today at the 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) say that out of nearly 200 commonly used compounds, there’s very little known about the potential health risks of about one-third, and eight are toxic to mammals.

The meeting features nearly 12,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics and is being held here through Thursday by ACS, the world’s largest scientific society.

William Stringfellow, Ph.D., says he conducted the review of fracking contents to help resolve the public debate over the controversial drilling practice. …
“The industrial side was saying, ‘We’re just using food additives, basically making ice cream here,'” [Which is what Encana told the Rosebud community. If Encana injected ice cream components into Rosebud’s drinking water aquifers, Ernst’s dogs would not have backed away from the water in repulsion – Bandit and Magic loved ice cream.] Stringfellow says. “On the other side, there’s talk about the injection of thousands of toxic chemicals. As scientists, we looked at the debate and asked, ‘What’s the real story?'”

To find out, Stringfellow’s team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of the Pacific scoured databases and reports [Did his team have access to the proprietary ingredients and those not disclosed on fracfocus, other databases or in reports? Did the team review drilling additives, servicing and acidizing chemicals, lost circulation treatments, water stop treatments, etc?] to compile a list of substances commonly used in fracking. They include gelling agents to thicken the fluids, biocides to keep microbes from growing, sand to prop open tiny cracks in the rocks and compounds to prevent pipe corrosion.

What their analysis revealed was a little truth to both sides’ stories — with big caveats. Fracking fluids do contain many nontoxic and food-grade materials, as the industry asserts. But if something is edible or biodegradable, it doesn’t automatically mean it can be easily disposed of, Stringfellow notes.

“You can’t take a truckload of ice cream and dump it down the storm drain,” he says, building on the industry’s analogy. “Even ice cream manufacturers have to treat dairy wastes, which are natural and biodegradable. They must break them down rather than releasing them directly into the environment.”

His team found that most fracking compounds will require treatment before being released. And, although not in the thousands as some critics suggest, the scientists identified eight substances, including biocides, that raised red flags. These eight compounds were identified as being particularly toxic to mammals.

“There are a number of chemicals, like corrosion inhibitors and biocides in particular, that are being used in reasonably high concentrations that potentially could have adverse effects,”
Stringfellow says. “Biocides, for example, are designed to kill bacteria — it’s not a benign material.”

They’re also looking at the environmental impact of the fracking fluids, and they are finding that some have toxic effects on aquatic life.

In addition, for about one-third of the approximately 190 compounds the scientists identified as ingredients in various fracking formulas, the scientists found very little information about toxicity and physical and chemical properties.

“It should be a priority to try to close that data gap,” Stringfellow says.

He acknowledges funding from the University of the Pacific, the Bureau of Land Management and the state of California.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 161,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences.


Characterizing compounds used in hydraulic fracturing: A necessary step for understanding environmental impacts


Hydraulic fracturing (HF), a method to enhance oil and gas production, has become increasingly common throughout the U.S. As such, it is important to characterize the chemicals found in HF fluid to evaluate potential environmental and human health impacts. Eighty-one common HF chemical additives were identified and categorized according to their functions. Physical and chemical characteristics of these additives were determined using publicly available chemical information databases. Fifty-four of the compounds are organic and twenty-seven of these are considered readily biodegradable. Twenty-one chemicals have high theoretical oxygen demands and are used in concentrations that present potential treatment challenges. Most of the HF chemicals evaluated were non-toxic or of low toxicity and only four were classified as Category 2 oral toxins and one as a Category 1 inhalation toxin according standards in the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals; however, toxicity information was not located for thirty-four of the HF chemicals evaluated. Volatilization is not expected to be a significant exposure pathway for most HF chemicals. Gaps in toxicity and other chemical properties suggests deficiencies in the current state of knowledge, highlighting the need for further assessment to understand potential issues associated with HF chemicals in the environment. [Emphasis added]

Gaz de schiste : alerte sur la toxicité des additifs utilisés by Le Monde, August 14, 2014

[Refer also to:

Products observed in 2006 on two EnCana leases near Rosebud:

Petroleum Distillates
UN 1268
Flammable 3

2006 Encana lease near Rosebud Alberta Petroleum Distillates

2006 Encana lease near Rosebud Alberta Chemicals in the rain

2006 Encana lease near Rosebud Alberta Chemicals in the rain

Drispac Plus Regular
Drilling Specialty Company, div of Chevron Phillips

Hyperdrill, F 204 RD anionic Flocculant, readily dispersible.  By Hychem, Inc.  FL, USA. 813-963-6214.

Kelzan XCD Polymer.  Lot No. XCD – 5K91

Kelzan XCD Polymer.  Lot No. XCD – 6C0649K

Xanthan Gum CAS 11138662

CF DESCO II defloculant

Caustic Soda

High grade hydrated lime

Stable Flow TM – IFS
[illegible] in under balanced drilling
Skin and eye irritant
#200 – 407- 3 St. SW Calgary 284-8742
[5 gal pails on pallets]

Sodium Bicarbonate

Power Slide IFS  
skin eye irritant
[5 gal blue pails on pallets]

Lightning Break
Skin eye irritant
[5 gal red pails on pallets]

Thunder Foam
Explosive air vapour mist
Skin eye irritant
Flammable liquid toxic
[5 gal white pails on pallets.]

Ultra Foam
Flammable Poison
Skin eye irritant
Form explosive air mixture vapour
Millennium Technologies Ltd.
#5 5510 3rd street SE

[Were these Foam products used in Encana’s shallow nitrogen foam fracs at Rosebud? Documents released under Freedom of Information state that Encana’s shallow frac’d 3-14-27-22-W4M gas well was N2 foam frac’d with sand. The ethane fingerprint from this gas well matched the ethane fingerprint found in gases in Rosebud drinking water wells. What are the “additives” in N2 foamed or gelled frac fluids?]

In fact, foam technology has progressed from simple water foams and linear-gel foams to crosslinked foams with nitrogen and/or carbon dioxide. With the recent development of Delta Frac fluid, a low polymer-concentration, borate-crosslinked fluid, foam technology has once again been advanced. Delta foams allow fracture-stimulation treatments with low polymer concentrations. Delta Frac fluids typically contain 15 to 25 lb/Mgal of guar polymer.

Nitrogen Foam Fracturing 
Nitrogen foams contain between 53% and 95% volume of nitrogen with the balance composed of water and additives,which gives them similar applicability as pure gaseous nitrogen. The ability to combine water and nitrogen in different volume fractions means that fluid viscosity can be adjusted for best performance.

Case Study C: Coal Bed Methane Plays
The Greater Green River Basin is one of the large coal bed methane plays in the US located in central Wyoming and spanning an area of approximately 19,000 square miles. Fredd et al. carried out field-testing, laboratory testing and simulations to compare the performance of nitrogen foam to slickwater for this basin. The authors report that the field data demonstrated that nitrogen foam outperformed slickwater by providing 20-30% improvement in estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) of natural gas [6].

Furthermore, Fredd et al. report that the results from field-testing in other shale plays showed that nitrogen foam offered a great deal of success. For example, in the Devonian Shale play, the data showed that nitrogen foam offered a 59% one year cumulative production increase in comparison to slickwater. Other cited advantages of the use of nitrogen foam included reduced formation damage, improved cleanup, and compliance with US environmental regulations related to drinkable groundwater. [Emphasis added]

Caustic Soda Beads
Custom package in Davidson Sask
Sodium hydroxide Solid UN1823


Prima Seal Medium

Natura gel – Wyoming Bentonite

Sparton Brand Barytes Montana Minerals Drilling Mud
NGA Mtn Minerals (Lethbridge) Ltd.

Calcium Nitrate 15-5-0-0-19 fertilizer
CAS 15245-12-2
15.5 % Nitrogen
Ammonia N2 1%

Q1 Stop-fine tech. Grade SAPP Astaris
Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate
Warning eye skin




Danger, unregulated
Millennium Tech.
[Many bags on pallets]

Millennium Tech

40 kgs
Excallibar Minerals Inc.

Ultra Vis-H
Skin eye irritant
Millennium Technologies Ltd.
#5 5510 3rd street SE
[MSDS states “In mineral oil”]

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