I recently became aware of the issue with the fracking fluids. Came across a news story
that implicates Zetaflow, a proprietary fracking fluid produced by Halliburton, in severely poisoning a worker, who then went to the emergency room. The nurse who treated him was hospitalized herself after being exposed for "5-10 minutes" according to the story.
Not surprisingly, Colorado is now discussing the possibility of requiring chemical disclosure of the fracking chemicals, and in this case, Halliburton, the manufacturer of Zetaflow, is threatening to leave the state rather than disclose the composition of the chemical. The issue is also discussed in a diary
at Daily Kos.
Just today, I had an interesting experience that is not all that dissimilar to the fracking chemical non-disclosure. At the moment, I'm working for a major tech company. I've been having health issues and I have some suspicion that these problems are directly related to workplace exposures. Partly this is due to the fact that all my symptoms disappeared during the holiday shutdown of 2-1/2 weeks, and then returned after about 4 hours of work this Monday. By today I was starting to get irritated, and decided to actually look at the MSDS's that are in books all over the place. Low and behold, over 90% of the chemicals that are used in large quantities in the facility are listed as proprietary, and further, there is exactly zero health or toxicological data. None. Many of the data sheets have warnings, recommend against inhalation (which is completely impossible given the chemicals are in heated baths with no ventilation whatsoever.) Ironically, many of the chemicals have "RESPIRATORY SENSITIZER" or "SKIN SENSITIZER" written in large letters on the front page of the MSDS. I don't know how to evaluate this, since again, no toxicological data.
I complained to one of the people working in the area about the problem, basically saying: what good is it to have "safety information" when the chemical content is not disclosed, and the toxicological data is completely lacking? While the company can certainly make the claim that the content is proprietary for competitors, to do so for workers exposed to the chemical is clearly to prevent workers from making a correlation between their health problems and their workplace exposures. The woman I spoke with stopped at one point, looked down, and started talking about her friends at the plant who have died of cancer over the years. She pointed out that many of them didn't smoke and then amazingly, she joked that she would probably retire and then croak.
That is the world we now live in. People in power, people in business regularly and routinely lie, obscure, hide, and distort health risks of their products in order to make a buck. From what I gather from my little research into fracking fluids is that the probability of contaminating nearby (and not so nearby) wells is very high. I'm certainly glad I don't live in a region where these fluids are used.
Shortonsense: I do not share your glibness and confidence in the safety of these fracking fluids. For almost 200 years, dentists have been inserting mercury in people's mouths (you know, those "silver" fillings, which are really 50% mercury or more), so the fact that a thing has been done for a long time is absolutely not a proof of its safety.