New app identifies toxic drinking water

Fracking chemicals could cause infertility, cancer, and birth defects. A new app is helping expose these chemicals in drinking water.

Exposure to hydraulic fracturing fluid in drinking water has been shown to increase the risk of respiratory problems, premature births, congenital heart defects, and other negative health consequences.

Now, a new, interactive tool created by Penn Medicine researchers allows community members and scientists to find out which toxins may be lurking in their drinking water as a result of fracking, announced a statement.

By typing your ZIP code into the website or accompanying app, WellExplorer, you can view the closest fracking sites in your state, learn which chemicals are used at those sites, and view their levels of toxicity.

The WellExplorer app’s creators found that wells in Alabama use a disproportionately high number of ingredients targeting oestrogen pathways, while Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania use a high number of ingredients targeting testosterone pathways.

The Data Explorer page on the WellExplorer app and website allows researchers to take a deeper dive into understanding the chemical makeup of fracking wells throughout the United States.

According to the researchers, the use of chemicals at a fracking site may not necessarily mean that those chemicals would be present in the water supply, which would be dependent on other factors, such as what type of soil or bedrock is being drilled into, and the depth of both the hydraulic fracturing well and an individual’s private well depth.

WellExplorer can also be used as an important tool for environmental scientists, epidemiologists, and other researchers to make connections between specific health outcomes and proximity to a specific fracturing well.

Image credit: Allison Kwesell / World Bank via Flickr

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