Fracking Industry Trying To Keep Doctors Silent About Chemical Dangers

Fracking Industry Trying To Keep Doctors Silent About Chemical Dangers by Farron Cousins, May 29, 2012,
Earlier this year, Mother Jones reported on a new law in Pennsylvania that allows doctors to have access to the secret fracking formulas that the dirty energy industry is pumping into the ground, but they are legally required to keep that information private. From the Mother Jones report: There is good reason to be curious about exactly what’s in those fluids. A 2010 congressional investigation revealed that Halliburton and other fracking companies had used 32 million gallons of diesel products, which include toxic chemicals like benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene, in the fluids they inject into the ground. Low levels of exposure to those chemicals can trigger acute effects like headaches, dizziness, and drowsiness, while higher levels of exposure can cause cancer. Pennsylvania law states that companies must disclose the identity and amount of any chemicals used in fracking fluids to any health professional that requests that information in order to diagnosis or treat a patient that may have been exposed to a hazardous chemical. But the provision in the new bill requires those health professionals to sign a confidentiality agreement stating that they will not disclose that information to anyone else—not even the person they’re trying to treat. … But this month, a proposed law in Ohio takes that physician gag concept to a whole new level. House lawmakers in Ohio are drafting a proposal that would prevent doctors from being able to share any information regarding the chemical composure of fracking fluids, even if the health of the general public were in danger. If there were to be a well blowout or massive contamination of freshwater aquifers, doctors in Ohio would not be allowed to warn the public of specific chemicals in the fracking fluid they would be exposed to. … There is more than enough available evidence to show that hydraulic fracturing is dangerous to human health, but the industry continues to deny this. And since their lobbying money has successfully prevented the EPA from being able to monitor groundwater contamination near fracking sites, it means that contamination could be widespread, and completely unreported.

[Refer also to: Confidentiality Agreements, The Problem: Confidentiality agreements in lawsuit settlements can be harmful, even deadly, to the public ]

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