Geologist warns of toxic risks from fracking the Bowland shale

bowland shale bgs

Map: British Geological Survey

A mining geologist has called for the suspension of fracking for gas in the main shale areas of northern England because he says the rocks contain high concentrations of toxic heavy metals.

Robin Grayson has written a paper, posted on the website,, about the presence of selenium, arsenic, cadmium and thallium in the Bowland shale.

Cuadrilla, which fracked the Bowland shale at its Preston New Road site near Blackpool before Christmas, said it had been testing for selenium, which was absent or at trace levels. “It was  both unhelpful and misleading to local people to suggest otherwise”, a company spokesperson said. (Full statement at the end of this piece)

The Bowland shale is found either side of the Pennines, in parts of Lancashire, Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire and is the main area licensed by the government for shale gas exploration.

As well as Preston New Road, companies have plans to explore the Bowland shale at Misson Springs in Nottinghamshire, Harthill in south Yorkshire and Bramleymoor Lane in Derbyshire. IGas’s Tinker Lane well, drilled in November 2018, was also looking for the formation but failed to find it.

Mr Grayson said other researchers have reported high levels of selenium in the Bowland shale at the surface, about 11 miles from Preston New Road. It has also been found near Pendle Hill, Walley and Earby in Lancashire and at Edale in Derbyshire, he said.

 “It is now realised that the Bowland Shale has remarkably high toxic levels of selenium, everywhere its outcrops have been tested in NW England, Wales, Isle of Man and Ireland. No exceptions.”

He said selenium, while a vital nutrient in tiny quantities, is very toxic in high concentrations. He called for independent tests for selenium and the other heavy metals on rock cuttings taken from several wells drilled recently. These include Cuadrilla’s Lancashire sites at Becconsall, Preston New Road and Preese Hall and the boreholes drilled at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire and Irlam (Barton Moss) in Salford.

He said:

“Until then fracking by Cuadrilla and acidisation by IGas should be suspended with immediate effect.

“If, as I suspect, selenium levels in the boreholes are extremely toxic, then the PEDLs [Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences] should be restricted to coalbed methane from the Upper, Middle and Lower Coal Measures.”

He added that flowback waters from the Preston New Road wells should be classed as “highly toxic waste” until proved otherwise.

The paper also warned about the risk of shale gas wells encountering the poisonous and flammable gas, hydrogen sulphide (H2S), known as sour gas.

“Factual evidence shows the risk of encountering H2S is substantial, which is bad news for investors and for the health and safety of local communities, as well as for the workers.”

He said the risk arose from two different sources in the Bowland shale.

Anhydrite rock (calcium sulphate) below the formation – identified in boreholes in the Bowland basin – could produce sulphate waters in huge amounts, he said. If this came into contact with hydrocarbons then hydrogen sulphide could be produced.

He also quoted examples of unconventional shale wells in Texas producing sour gas because of the use of guar gum in fracking. He suggested that guar gum encouraged the growth of anaerobic bacteria, which generated hydrogen sulphide. This may be slowed, but not eliminated, by the use of biocides, he suggested.

DrillOrDrop put Mr Grayson’s concerns to Cuadrilla. A spokesperson for the company said:

“During our operations at Preston New Road we have carried out extensive core sampling, providing us with a unique dataset of the Bowland Shale.

“Through this continuous observation we have established that the natural gas in the shale rock contains no hydrogen sulphide, as we would expect in this geology.

“We have also been testing for other elements, including selenium, which has been absent or at trace level, with the results independently inspected by the regulator. It is both unhelpful and misleading to local people to suggest otherwise.”

Updated with a comment from Cuadrilla

61 replies »

  1. Robin, as you are doubtless fully aware, selenium ENRICHED food has been the subject of much literature over recent years. Indeed, when I operated as an animal nutritionist enriching selenium intake via elevating levels in eggs was a successful programme. Bread was also looked at in a similar way.

    Selenium is a powerful antioxidant and foods high in selenium (natural or fortified) may help prevent cancer by reducing free radicals in the body. Perhaps those with electric powered vehicles should supplement their intake of selenium to protect against any contact with the cobalt?

    NaCl is highly toxic in anything other than tiny concentrations. Research ship wrecked sailors.

    BUT, of course, no one would consume huge levels of selenium or salt.

    Sorry, your geology knowledge may be fine but you have picked the wrong material with selenium. Check the technical references a bit closer, you will find the modern viewpoint is that selenium intake should be increased. A bit more of a goody than a baddy.

    Perhaps those living above the Bowland Shale will get a property price dividend?

  2. No, I have not Sherwulfe.

    But, if you want to believe that everyone will be so easily confused as yourself and not bother to do any research into the BENEFITS of selenium, then good luck but you probably underestimate the IQ levels of others, or that others may have handled tonnes of the stuff. I thought greenies were switched on about antioxidants?

    I see that Cuadrilla have confirmed what we all expected anyway. So, it is the “highly toxic waste” bit that has not only missed the point, but is a total embarrassment and a good lesson to those still on their school holidays to see how the scaremongering works-or doesn’t.

    However, for other areas above the Bowland Shale I suspect you are also safe to eat the carrots you grow-even the long ones.

    Now, Krakens are a different matter altogether.

    • ‘He said selenium, while a vital nutrient in tiny quantities, is very toxic in high concentrations.’ so yes, you did miss the point.

  3. Beware the toxic risks of the Lake District – ban tourism to this World Heritage Site?

    Ever been to the Lake District. Ever got a gippy tummy, hair fallen out, headaches?

    “From 1835 until 1991, the Force Crag Mine just outside Keswick mine was worked for zinc, lead and barytes. Metal pollution (zinc, cadmium and lead) from the mine pollutes the Coledale Beck, a tributary of the Newlands Beck and the River Derwent and Bassenthwaite Lake Special Area of Conservation. [Lovely clear water, must be “natural”, no maybe it’s so toxic nothing will live in it.]

    A study for the Environment Agency and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, identified the environmental impact from the metal mine as being one of the worst in the UK.”

    I suspect the risk from fracking to the good souls who live above the Bowland Shale is probably far less than the risk to the residents of Keswick. Actually it would be good if Mr Grayson could actually quantify the risks and speciify how the danger is promulgated. In many parts of the U.K. there are toxic metals under our feet, and for that matter sometimes significant levels of radioactivity. The issue is how much risk, compared to every other risk we are subject to, and the manner in which it is managed and monitored.

    • In many parts of the U.K. there are toxic metals under our feet, and for that matter sometimes significant levels of radioactivity. So let’s leave it all undisturbed. I make the comment that minute quantities of these substances may be acceptable but let’s not poke the sleeping giant

  4. Hydrogen Sulphide, wasn’t that the content of “stink bombs”, purchased by my good self in “ joke shops “ in the 1960’s and reportedly used regularly by Dennis the Menace and friends. No wonder I turned into a fracking supporter, must be the result of insidious brain poisoning.

    • I’m sure you realise that things have moved on a bit since the 1960s. And a tiny amount is different from a major H2S release especially for the residents in the immediate vicinity

  5. It is all hype from the frackers and scaremongering from the anti frackers.
    This is why over 50% of population neither support or oppose fracking. Because both side use PR spin to play the public to their agenda.

    • BEST WISHES to both sides of the forum.

      I’m very pleased to see that all the main players have safely made it back here in 2019.

      YES TW , you are correct , BUT it has been shown that most people who are not living in a “sacrifice zone ” are clueless about the process…

      The people living in such areas, who in turn quickly familiarise themselves with the Fracking industry are then saying a resounding NO.

      If anyone can show me an area which is welcoming the prospect of Fracking on their doorsteps, I will stand to be corrected, bow down and kiss their feet.

  6. The article appears to demonstrate the age old adage that empty vessels make more noise. The authors appears to lack basic understanding of the controls on sulphate reduction let alone any understanding of the rates at which these processes can occur. H2S can be generated by the thermal maturation of hydrocarbons themselves. However, most is formed as a result of biogenic or thermogenic sulphate reduction. The former generally occurs within anoxic water columns or directly below the sediment-water interface after oxygen has been depleted due to microbially-mediated organic matter mineralization reactions. Thermogenic sulphate reduction occurs at high temperatures (~120 – 160 oC). A common feature of both is that they require organic matter (including methane) and sulphate to be in the same place at the same time. The author doesn’t seem to have provided a mechanism whereby this can happen to the extent that is likely to produce a significant amount of H2S. The author also doesn’t seem to take into account that although H2S incorporation in some (anoxic) shales is Fe-limited, the Bowland basin contains a massive amount of sediments there is large amounts of reactive iron (e.g. siderite), which will buffer H2S concentrations to very low levels.

    The author also seems to miss the point that the petroleum industry is very good at dealing with H2S even if it were present. The low permeability and compressibility of the shale within the Bowland basin make wells easy to control and blowouts extremely unlikely.

    Overall, the author uses a massive amount of words yet fails to provide a coherent mechanism as to how H2S would be a significant danger. The article seems intended to scare people into rejecting shale gas extraction on totally spurious grounds.

    • Good morning Judith, Thank you for your comments, and I agree with many of your comments, albeit we come to very different conclusions.

      As bridge-building we can surely both agree with the fracking gas industry of Texas that sweet gas wells SLOWLY become sour gas wells with high levels of toxic H2S, but that the use of guar gum and similar RAPIDLY accelerates the process of generating H2S during fracking. It is dealt with in my Report.

      Robin Grayson MSc Liberal Democrat Geologist

      • I would imagine that injecting labile organic matter into the ground where there is a source of dissolved sulphate will increase H2S. Of course, there are no plans to use guar gum in the shale gas wells here because that tends to be used in higher permeability formations where one needs thick hydraulic fractures. The shale gas plays in PNR require complex fracs and guar gum isn’t too good at transporting proppant in such systems. Preventing H2S formation isn’t rocket science and neither is treating it. The main issue with H2S isn’t really HSE any longer as the industry is used to dealing with it. The key problem in my experience is one when unexpectedly comes across H2S and finds the existing infrastructure can’t cope with such high concentrations. The latter usually occurs in the former case that you describe where H2S is slowly desorbed from surfaces as oil and gas are produced. The Buzzard field in the North Sea is a good example of that.

        • Texaco’s Tartan was a great example of finding out too late that the reservoir contained H2S. Inadequate appraisal. But I recall it did no harm to anyone other than cost Texaco a lot to retrofit the process equipment to manage it.

          As you point out Judith, H2S is not unusual in oil and gas production, particularly in the Middle East including the North field in Qatar where our LNG comes from, albeit at fairly low ppm.

          I have developed fields offshore UAE and Oman with several % H2S and high partial pressures. The main problem is the technical challenge of getting the metallurgy of the completion tubulars and wetted surfaces correct.

  7. Robin, Was your Research Gate article peer reviewed? I am finding mistakes in it? Such as “From the outset, the Chadian Stage was not clearly defined, as there is a semi-cryptic fault in the road cutting (Grayson ms). It was then realized the top of the Chadian Stage was problematic. Painstaking examination of the foraminiferans by Nicholas Riley 1995 revealed that the top of the Chadian stage could not be safely defined in the Chatburn stratotype and that the base of the Chadian stage was also unclear in the area” My work in that paper actually foocussed on the fact that the base (not the top) Chadian could not be recognised sedimentologically, nor biostratigraphically at at the stratotype. It was me who proposed that T/V boundary be drawn at the base of the Hodder Mudstone. I introduced the informal term “late Chadian” for the Chadian section above the base Hodder Mudstones up to the entry of primitive archaediscids. By the way I agree with Judith’s comments on this thread re H2S.

    • Hi Nick, thanks for the good clarification.

      My point was to share with the reader the concern of the oil and gas industry in the 1980s who naturally wanted to know where the top and base of the Chadian was in the Clitheroe Anticline in order to try to “see” these boundaries on their seismic lines along the Chatburn A59 Chatburn road cutting.

      As it happened, I was there when the road cutting was actually being blasted through, and surprised to see the blasting reveal reverse faults. Including one with spectacular white calcite rhombs. This became a topic of great concern to the oil geologists of many companies, who questioned me why the Chadian stratotype had been put in a road section containing a prominent fault, and where exactly the top and bottom of the Chadian stratotype were in the road section. It was embarrassing for me to have to tell them that not only the type section contain faults, but also that the essential fossil evidence for both the top or bottom of the Chadian was unclear to me and others in the Chadian stratotype as defined by George et al. in 1976.

      Crucially, it follows than when the oil exploration companies analysed their seismic lines in the 1980s, they had neither a top nor a bottom for the Chadian that was agreed upon nationally, regionally or even in the type section. Nevertheless they attempted to fined the base and top of the Chadian as “picks” in their seismic lines.

      I led more than a hundred oil companies geologists and managers to inspect the problematic Chatburn road cutting, and all appreciated having the uncertainties about the Chadian explained to them in the field.

      As you will recall, it was later on that your valuable work was done to clarify the Chadian, and therefore two of your seminal papers are referenced in full in my Report:
      319: Riley, Nicholas J. 1990. Stratigraphy of the Worston Shale Group (Dinantian), Craven Basin, north-west England. Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society, volume 48, pages 163-187.
      320: Riley, Nicholas J. 1995. Foraminiferal biostratigraphy of the Chadian stage stratotype (Dinantian), Chatburn, northwest England. Bulletin de la Société belge de Géologie, volume 103, pages 13-49.

      Here is what I wrote in my Report, and I believe it is correct:

      “A second, much more intractable difficulty concerns defining the type section for the stratotype of the Chadian Stage in the splendid outcrop in the A59 Chatburn road cutting near Clitheroe.

      From the outset, the Chadian Stage was not clearly defined, as there is a semi-cryptic fault in the road cutting (Grayson ms). It was then realized the top of the Chadian Stage was problematic. Painstaking examination of the foraminiferans by Nicholas Riley 1995 revealed that the top of the Chadian stage could not be safely defined in the Chatburn stratotype, and that the base of the Chadian stage was also unclear in the area.

      This renders it difficult to give a clear account of the Chadian time interval in the Bowland Basin or indeed anywhere else. The hope was that the top of the Chadian stratotype would neatly define the international top of the Tournaisian stage and base of the Viséan stage. As a workable alternative, the Czech-UK team of Jiff Kalvoda; Ondřej Bábek, M. Aretz, Patrick Cossey, François Devuyst, Simon Hargreaves and John Nudds 2012 conducted high resolution foraminiferan biostratigraphy across the Tournaisian-Viséan boundary in the North Staffordshire Basin and correlated this with the Tournaisian-Viséan boundary in the South Wales-Mendip Shelf (see Tony Adams, Paul Wright and Patrick Cossey 2004).”

      Thanks for your comments.

      Robin Grayson MSc Liberal Democrat Geologist

      • Robin, I was there when the road cut was being driven too. You have missed my point the base Chadian, not top Chadian is defined in the road cut. The top Chadian was always going to lie stratigraphically above the roadcut, indeed above the reefs. Your Miller & Grayson paper of 1972, inadvertantly found the the TV boundary within the Chadian, when you decsribed the boudler beds at Salthill Quarry. We now know this boundary coincided with a glacioeustatic sea level fall at the end of the Tournaisian. The Staffordshire, Mendip & S. Wales alternatibes to find a complete section across the T/V boundary are no good either, they too have depositional breaks missed by the authors you quote. Indeed Brownend Quarry in Staffs is a series of gravity slid turbidite slabs. The Manifold section has a T/V contact on reef limestone with a similar break to Salthill, & the Mendip/S Wales shelf sections have a palaeosol break- as one would expect. I have lots of comments to make on your technical report, it will take a while for me to put them together.

        • Good morning Nick, Thanks for the clarification. The point I was making was that the huge problem faced by in the 1980s by the oil and gas companies in interpreting their seismic regarding picks for the Chadian due to uncertainties regarding the Chadian stratotype in the Chatburn road cutting. I will amend the text in a forthcoming update in due course. Robin Grayson Liberal Democrat Geologist.

  8. Whilst the White Star Line PR manual is trotted out, sorry, but this WAS an absolute DISASTER!

    Not sure why such unfounded, and unscientific, speculation was attempted but it fell on it’s face.

    And no, I did not miss the point Sherwulfe. If you want to visit the salt caverns in Cheshire and stuff neat NaCl down your throat you will find that is toxic, but who would do that? Those who have handled concentrated selenium know it is no problem either. You may just find that many people are more aware of science than you give them credit for.

    Go on, mop up those free radicals, try some selenium supplementation! (As you like links, there was a book by Dr. C. Adams which was all about Nutricuticals, which probably could help you out. Long time since I read it, and you will need to DYOR to see if my memory is correct on that.)

  9. Nick Riley, I cannot believe anyone has peer-reviewed this and would be willing to put their name to it. It is my understanding that Researchgate has no requirement for any peer review and is basically a social media space for self publication of papers? Fully agree with Judith Green’s comments and I find it incredible and dispiriting that someone who has such a geoscience background can produce this tendential baloney.

    The ridiculous hyping of a paper citing guar gum as some sort of demon recipe for toxicity is laughable given it is used in the overwhelming majority of oil and gas wells around the world and has been for decades with little or no H2S generation worth speaking about.
    No mention of the origin of H2S in natural sulphur springs, just the implication by omission that the H2S is all from deep geology and barely mention of surface organic material contribution in water tables. What is the exposure of those bathing in an H2S spring I wonder?

    Dose makes the poison, and the report is neatly summed up in section 18.2 reporting that H2S was smelled in produced water in a well, which actually means that the level was above the detectable level to the human nose of 0.13ppm (which tiny) and does not in fact, “constitute impressive evidence for the existence of the ill-defined Chester H2S Province”. But it sounds frightening if you dont know anything about H2S, and thats the point of the report, of course.

    Pretty much any professional geologist can see right though this ‘report’ / tourist guidebook / ticklist of terror for what it is. It is scaremongering dressed up as big-word science designed expressly for the ill informed activist and embattled councillor and would be laughed at out of hand if presented to any reputable journal for publishing. The references are real enough, but the trick is just which ones you select, how you put them together and how to present them to put your point.

    Oh, and section 9.3, Litvinenko; Polonium, not Thallium, although no doubt, theres a “Polonium in waste water” paper to be found somewhere in the net if you scrape around.

    • ‘The references are real enough, but the trick is just which ones you select, how you put them together and how to present them to put your point.’ – isn’t that what ALL research papers do Martin Decker?

  10. Hi Martin,

    Thank you for your comments and I will respond to one comment you made: “The ridiculous hyping of a paper citing guar gum as some sort of demon recipe for toxicity is laughable given it is used in the overwhelming majority of oil and gas wells around the world and has been for decades with little or no H2S generation worth speaking about.”

    Here is what I wrote, mostly verbatim, from one of the UK’s most respected research teams currently addressing the problem of H2S generated by guar gum in gas wells around the world:

    Biogenic sulphide production is a common problem with conventional gas wells, and can lead to “costly hydrocarbon processing and corrosion of extraction infrastructure. The same phenomenon has recently been identified in shale gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing, and organic additives in fracturing fluid have been hypothesized to stimulate this process” Sophie Nixon and Rawwater 2017. UK-based Rawwater Engineering Company is a world leader in understanding sour oil and gas, and the effects of microbiological growth. According to November 2018:

    “In 2003, Rawwater began running a number of pressurised bioreactors as part of an anaerobic corrosion study to establish whether particular dissolved gases could support microbiological growth. The success of the study was such that it was established that the process could be used to investigate the effect of pressure and temperature on oilfield microbiology. With the cost of oilfield reservoir souring control rumoured to consume as much as a third of typical production budgets, considerable interest was shown by oil majors and chemical service companies globally to develop this research tool further. This led to the birth of the ‘Seriatim’ series of work into oilfield souring and in excess of $10 million in funding for Rawwater to create its pressurised bioreactor dataset.”

    “Rawwater’s major pressurised bioreactor programme commenced in 2006. At least 30 bioreactors, ranging from 20cm to 4 metres in length, are in operation at any one time. Operating conditions range from atmospheric pressure to 12,000psig, at temperatures from five degrees centigrade to just below the boiling point of water. Souring studies, including large-scale R&D joint industry projects (JIPs) and single client studies, have lasted from a matter of weeks to a number of years, and have been run on seawater and oil samples from major fields globally. The data harvested by Rawwater is truly unique in that it covers the complete range of operating conditions, including accurate chemistries at pressure and temperature.”

    “Rawwater’s pressurised bioreactor studies are also used to feedback into the organisation’s Dyna micTVS© oilfield reservoir souring forecasting model. A predictive software model that has been developed over many years, DynamicTVS© provides valuable insight into whether, when, and to what extent an oilfield reservoir will sour. The oilfield predictive software model uses operational, planning and survey data to generate future profiles of hydrogen sulphide in all fluid phases.”

    “Rawwater Environmental works closely with local communities and oil and gas companies to provide impartial subsurface environmental protection advice. Fracking: Rawwater’s Subsurface Environmental team was established in response to the needs of the regulator, the community and the extraction industry to protect underground water courses. Rawwater’s ‘Clean Shale Gas’ research programme is developing techniques to reduce chemicals used in fracking operations. Our Bismuth Plug programme has already delivered the world’s first metal plug to permanently seal oil and gas wells at the end of their life. The Bismuth Plug programme is now scheduled for the permanent sealing of carbon dioxide capture and storage reservoirs.

    Sophie Nixon and Rawwater 2017 assessed the ability of Guar Gum – the most widely used gelling agent additive in fracturing fluids – to stimulate biogenic sulphide production by sulphate-reducing microorganisms at elevated pressure. They fed two bespoke pressurized bioreactors were fed with “sulphate-amended freshwater medium, or low-sulphate natural surface water, in addition to guar gum (0.05 w/v%) and an inoculum of sulphate-reducing bacteria” for 77 days. Sulphide production was observed in both bioreactors, even when the sulphate concentration was low. Analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences showed heterotrophic bacteria closely associated with the genera Brevundimonas and Acinetobacter became enriched early in the bioreactor experiments, followed by an increase in relative abundance of 16S rRNA genes associated with sulphate-reducing bacteria Desulfosporosinus and Desulfobacteraceae.

    According to the peer-reviewed research paper by Dr Sophie Nixon, Leanne Walker, Matthew Streets, Bob Eden, Christopher Boothman, Kevin Taylor and Johnathan Lloyd 2017:
    “Results demonstrate that guar gum can stimulate acid- and sulphide-producing microorganisms at elevated pressure, and may have implications for the potential role in microbially induced corrosion during hydraulic fracturing operations.”
    Martin, you can read the paper free of charge as a PDF:
    The title of the research paper is explicit: Guar Gum Stimulates Biogenic Sulfide Production at Elevated Pressures: Implications for Shale Gas Extraction.
    The paper appeared in the academic journal, ‘Frontiers in Microbiology’.
    The authors of the paper are researchers from the University of Manchester, and scientists at Rawwater company near Warrington.
    Edited by: Cody Sheik,University of Minnesota Duluth, USA
    Reviewed by: Bradley Stevenson, University of Oklahoma, USA
    Reviewed by: Kathleen Duncan, University of Oklahoma, USA
    Reviewed by: Christopher Neil Lyles, Northwestern State University, USA

    I hope this information is useful. Robin Grayson MSc Liberal Democrat Geologist

    • Robin, this is a simple material balance issue – there isn’t a major source of sulphate within the pore water of the Bowland shale to create a significant amount of H2S. In addition, the fracks are slickwater so guar gum isn’t used

      • Are you sure Judith Green? You appear to be implying the slickwater phase is the be all and end all of the fracking process. It’s common to use a thickening agent like Guar gum in the proppant phase that immediately follows, is it not? … at that stage the raised viscosity helps to keep the proppant granules in suspension.

        • This is what the EA said Cuadrilla could use and did use at Preese Hall when I asked:

          “Which chemicals were used by Cuadrilla in Preese Hall?
          Preese Hall site is the only shale gas site to have been hydraulic fractured to date in the UK. Details of the chemicals which we assessed as non hazardous and permitted for use are listed on Cuadrilla’s website. They are:
          • 99.75% of the shale gas fracking fluid is made up of water and sand, beyond that a very limited number of chemicals are used:
          • Polyacrylamide friction reducers (0.075%), commonly used in cosmetics and facial creams, suspended in a hydrocarbon carrier;
          • Hydrochloric acid (0.125%), frequently found in swimming pools and used in developing drinking water wells,
          • Biocide (0.005%), used on rare occasions when the water provided from the local supplier needs to be further purified.

          Cuadrilla only utilised the polyacrylamide friction reducer in their operations.”

          • ‘Cuadrilla only utilised the polyacrylamide friction reducer in their operations’ – well that’s okay then….

            ‘HEALTH CONCERNS: Polyacrylamide can break down into acrylamide, which is a carcinogen, reproductive and developmental toxicity

            Polyacrylamide is made up of repeating molecules of acrylamide, which is a suspected carcinogen. Trace amounts of acrylamide remain in polyacrylamide. Acrylamide is found in in lotions, powders and creams.[8],[9],[10] Daily exposure to acrylamide through cosmetics may exceed the amount that would result from smoking a pack of cigarettes a day (.95 vs .67micrograms/kg of body weight per day).[11] In addition, acrylamide concentrations in many cosmetic products exceed those found in most, but not all, foods.[12] Research suggests acrylamide is absorbed by the skin fairly quickly, particularly when applied in mixtures of oil and water, which are very common in personal care products containing acrylamide.[13] Reference doses for acrylamide exposure are set at a range of .83-1.7 μg/kg of body weight per day, depending on the health outcome studied.[14] This level of exposure could be attained by heavy use of cosmetics containing acrylamide, or by combined exposures from food and cosmetic sources.

            Cancer: The National Toxicology program designates acrylamide as reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen. It has been linked to cancers of the thyroid, testis, mammary gland, uterus, pituitary gland and oral cavity in animal studies. Human studies have found associations between acrylamide exposure and pancreatic cancer among men exposed in the workplace. Some studies of dietary exposure to acrylamide have found associations with sex-receptor-positive breast cancers, although other studies have not found a relationship. Three studies have explored acrylamide exposure and risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers, and two of these found an association. The research on acrylamide exposure and kidney, head and neck cancers has been inconclusive.[15]

            Reproductive and Developmental toxicity: The National Toxicology Program considers acrylamide a neurotoxicant, due to effects of prenatal exposure on behavior. They also noted that acrylamide reduced fetal weight at doses in the low parts per million range.[16] In male rats and mice, acrylamide has been linked to negative impacts on sperm, including ejaculation and motility and on genetic mutations.[17]

            VULNERABLE POPULATIONS: Everyone’


            • Weird response Paul; this stuff is banned or limited in cosmetics in the EU – do you use skin cream, a very big leap to presume I do, but isn’t that what you do [ref planes]?

            • If it is banned in face creams in the EU what are you worried about? Are you intending to bathe in drilling fluid or frack fluid?

        • PhilpP – I’m not saying that slick water is the be all and end all. It’s good in very low perm reservoirs where complex fracks are needed. Gel fracks are better in slightly higher permeability reservoirs with more planar fracks particularly those where the gas flow rate to the well will be limited by fracture width as oppose to delivery of the gas to the fracture. SPE has loads of papers on this subject

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