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What Is Natural Gas?

Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas primarily made up of methane.  It is used for a variety of activities, from heating to electricity generation to the manufacture of plastics.  The process of extracting natural gas, through fracking, as well as the leakage of methane, are very harmful to our climate and children's health.  Methane is 86x more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas over its first 20 years in the atmosphere.


Natural gas extraction from shale is a complex process which includes: 1) building access roads and holding ponds ; 2) construction of pipelines and compressor stations; 3) drilling ; 4) hydraulic fracturing; 5) capturing the natural gas; 6) and disposal (or recycling) of flow-back water and drill cuttings.  Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, uses a combination of water, sand, and chemicals injected into the ground under high pressure to release natural gas.

How Does It Hurt Kids Health?
Water Contamination

Natural gas extraction can contaminate drinking water when geologic fractures extend into groundwater or from leaks from the natural gas well passing through the water table.  Drilling fluid, chemical spills, and disposal pit leaks may contaminate surface water supplies.  The chemicals used in the drilling and fracking process include benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, xylene, and many more. These substances have a wide range of toxic effects on humans ranging from cancer to adverse effects on the reproductive, neurological, and endocrine systems.  The government is currently not able to know or regulate what kinds of chemicals are used, and therefore may be contaminating your child's drinking water. 

Air Pollution

Air pollution around drilling facilities include diesel exhaust from machinery and heavy trucks.  Each fracturing event at each well requires up to 2,400 industrial truck trips.  Increases in particulate matter air pollution have been linked to respiratory illnesses, wheezing in infants, cardiovascular events, and premature death. 

Escaped emissions from the fracking process include volatile organic compounds

and benzene.  Volatile organic compounds can combine with nitrogen oxides to produce

ground-level ozone, which has been linked to asthma exacerbation and respiratory distress. 

Benzene exposure during pregnancy has been associated with neural tube defects,

childhood blood cancers, or low levels of all blood cells increasing a child's risk for

infection and bleeding. 

Special Susceptibility of Children

Children are more vulnerable to environmental hazards. They eat, drink, and breathe more than adults on a pound for pound basis. Research has also shown that children are not able to metabolize some toxins as well as adults due to immature detoxification processes.  Proximity to fracking operations have been associated with congenital heart defects, premature death, and worsening asthma. 

*The above information was provided by the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units

What Can I Do?

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