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What's NORMal for Fracking? Estimating Total Radioactivity of Produced Fluids.

Konkel L - Environ. Health Perspect. (2015)

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

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Naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) found in liquid wastes from hydraulic fracturing are an emerging environmental health concern... Using models to account for radioactive decay and ingrowth (increasing concentrations of decay products), the researchers estimated how the total radioactivity concentration of the produced fluids would change in the foreseeable future. “Much of the work we present here was used to develop and validate a rapid radioactivity measurement method for a federal agency,” says lead author Andrew Nelson, a Presidential Graduate Research Fellow and PhD candidate in human toxicology. “We had to have a controlled environment so we could be sure what we were measuring and confident in our analyses... If we left the cap open always, the values would be changing unpredictably. ” Under the closed-system conditions, the researchers estimated that the radioactivity concentration would increase by a factor of more than five within 15 days as a result of radioactive ingrowth... They measured an increase in the decay products lead and thorium in the closed system, and they predicted that radioactivity would continue to increase for more than 100 years with the formation of the decay products lead and polonium. “We know so little about the extent to which these contaminants represent major health concerns,” says James Burch, an associate professor in the University of South Carolina Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. “This study lays the foundation for a more detailed investigation of the health impacts of radioactive waste that may be generated from fracking. ” Burch was not involved in the current study... Because fracking activities and wastewater disposal often take place in close proximity to where people live and work, there’s a potential for human exposure, according to Burch. “The technology is vastly outpacing what we know about the health effects,” he says... In stream sediments near the facility, the researchers measured concentrations of radium that were approximately 200 times higher than would normally be expected... The authors of the current study conclude that future studies and risk assessments should include radium decay products in assessing the potential for environmental contamination from fracking” Nelson calls the current research a “conversation starter” that aims to inform risk assessment and waste handling. “If you don’t have an accurate measurement of the radiochemical parameters, you can’t have an accurate dose assessment,” he says... While the experimental design represents a starting point, it’s unclear how applicable the projections would be under real-world conditions where fluids are being moved around, handled, and exposed to the air, says Arthur Rose, an environmental geochemist and professor emeritus at Pennsylvania State University, who was not involved in the research. “In this study you have a worst-case scenario in which all the decay products remain in the water,” Rose says. “A more likely scenario would be that some of the radon would escape into the air... Future studies need to look at radon release. ” In ongoing field studies, Nelson and colleagues are applying new methods they developed to real-world scenarios... One study is looking at how radioactivity concentrations of naturally occurring radionuclides and their decay products change over time at a wastewater treatment facility that handles unconventional drilling waste.

No MeSH data available.


In heavily drilled areas like the Marcellus Shale region, fracking activities often take place near homes and workplaces.© Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images
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f1: In heavily drilled areas like the Marcellus Shale region, fracking activities often take place near homes and workplaces.© Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images


What's NORMal for Fracking? Estimating Total Radioactivity of Produced Fluids.

Konkel L - Environ. Health Perspect. (2015)

In heavily drilled areas like the Marcellus Shale region, fracking activities often take place near homes and workplaces.© Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images
© Copyright Policy - public-domain
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4492256&req=5

f1: In heavily drilled areas like the Marcellus Shale region, fracking activities often take place near homes and workplaces.© Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED EXCERPT
Please rate it.

Naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) found in liquid wastes from hydraulic fracturing are an emerging environmental health concern... Using models to account for radioactive decay and ingrowth (increasing concentrations of decay products), the researchers estimated how the total radioactivity concentration of the produced fluids would change in the foreseeable future. “Much of the work we present here was used to develop and validate a rapid radioactivity measurement method for a federal agency,” says lead author Andrew Nelson, a Presidential Graduate Research Fellow and PhD candidate in human toxicology. “We had to have a controlled environment so we could be sure what we were measuring and confident in our analyses... If we left the cap open always, the values would be changing unpredictably. ” Under the closed-system conditions, the researchers estimated that the radioactivity concentration would increase by a factor of more than five within 15 days as a result of radioactive ingrowth... They measured an increase in the decay products lead and thorium in the closed system, and they predicted that radioactivity would continue to increase for more than 100 years with the formation of the decay products lead and polonium. “We know so little about the extent to which these contaminants represent major health concerns,” says James Burch, an associate professor in the University of South Carolina Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. “This study lays the foundation for a more detailed investigation of the health impacts of radioactive waste that may be generated from fracking. ” Burch was not involved in the current study... Because fracking activities and wastewater disposal often take place in close proximity to where people live and work, there’s a potential for human exposure, according to Burch. “The technology is vastly outpacing what we know about the health effects,” he says... In stream sediments near the facility, the researchers measured concentrations of radium that were approximately 200 times higher than would normally be expected... The authors of the current study conclude that future studies and risk assessments should include radium decay products in assessing the potential for environmental contamination from fracking” Nelson calls the current research a “conversation starter” that aims to inform risk assessment and waste handling. “If you don’t have an accurate measurement of the radiochemical parameters, you can’t have an accurate dose assessment,” he says... While the experimental design represents a starting point, it’s unclear how applicable the projections would be under real-world conditions where fluids are being moved around, handled, and exposed to the air, says Arthur Rose, an environmental geochemist and professor emeritus at Pennsylvania State University, who was not involved in the research. “In this study you have a worst-case scenario in which all the decay products remain in the water,” Rose says. “A more likely scenario would be that some of the radon would escape into the air... Future studies need to look at radon release. ” In ongoing field studies, Nelson and colleagues are applying new methods they developed to real-world scenarios... One study is looking at how radioactivity concentrations of naturally occurring radionuclides and their decay products change over time at a wastewater treatment facility that handles unconventional drilling waste.

No MeSH data available.