Vernal, Utah is a fracking boomtown facing a spike in stillborn deaths.
Last week, we reported that CHEM Trust, the British charity that investigates the harm chemicals can cause humans and wildlife, has concluded that fracking poses a “significant” risk to human health and British wildlife, and should be banned.
To jog your memory, this is why fracking should be banned, according to CHEM Trust:
- 38 fracking chemicals are “acutely toxic for humans”
- Some of these toxic chemicals have been linked to breast, prostate and testicular cancer in humans as well as coronary heart disease
- Hazardous materials used in fracking, including chemicals “associated with leukemia in humans” and “toxic to sperm production in males”
- The CHEM Trust is “particularly concerned about the use of hormone-disrupting chemicals”
- “There is clear potential for fracking to cause serious pollution incidents with major impacts on the UK especially areas of recognized wildlife interest” the study concludes.
Well, they can add something else to the list: Fracking pollution may be to blame for stillborns, miscarriages, and birth defects in Vernal, Utah.
Rolling Stone reports that Vernal is "a town literally built by oil" and when midwife Donna Young raised questions about the alarming number of miscarriages, thus "raising questions about the safety of fracking," she is now being branded "a traitor and a target."
When four of her clients in Vernal miscarried within a span of two weeks, Donna Young tested the water they were drinking. All four of her clients said their water "tasted bad" -- and here's why:
She tested the water with a monitoring device used by drillers; most of the batches tested were positive for extreme toxicity from hydrogen sulfide, H2S, one of the most deadly of the gases released by drilling. Exposure to it has killed a number of rig workers over the past few decades. In high enough concentration, just one breath is enough. In much smaller amounts, H2S can cause miscarriages — and the amounts Young says she found were more than 7,000 times the EPA threshold for safety.
Vernal reportedly has a population of 10,000 people. An alarming number of infant mortality rates and birth defects allegedly plague the town. This is possibly due to ozone readings that rival the worst days of summer in New York and Los Angeles put together, as well as ground air contaminated with carcinogenic gases like benzene.
Yet, instead of looking at the science, Vernal locals have reportedly turned on Donna Young, and anyone else, who questions how harmful fracking can be due to the fact that fracking is directly tied to the town's livelihood.
Plus, big business turns the other way because, as Fortune Magazine reports: "fracking has helped dramatically drive down the price of oil and gas that’s being used in energy intensive industries such as steel, aluminum, paper and petrochemicals."
In fact, anything made in the U.S.A. is reportedly becoming more affordable because of fracking. Fracking has made it possible for U.S. manufacturing costs to be almost as low as China's.
Rolling Stone reports Dr. Brian Moench, an anesthesiologist in Salt Lake City who co-founded Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, worked with roughly 350 doctors in Utah to study pollution and its long and short-term damage to the unborn.
He tells Rolling Stone, "What we know now, from several blue-ribbon studies, is that the chemicals Mom inhales in industrial zones are passed to her baby through the umbilical cord, exposing them to many complications. We also know these toxins like to live in fat cells — and the brain is the largest fat reservoir in a developing fetus."
So what's the solution? What would you tell the mothers of Vernal, Utah? Sound off below.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.
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