Science And The Fracking Boom: Missing Answers

A natural gas boom is underway in the U.S., with more than 200,000 wells drilled in the last decade.

In states like Colorado, Texas, and Pennsylvania, residents who live close to the natural gas bonanza have the same questions: What kind of pollutants is the industrial activity putting into their water and air, and are those pollutants making them sick?

NPR's science desk & KUNC explore why there aren't solid answers to those questions yet...

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1:33pm

Tue May 15, 2012
The Fracking Boom: Missing Answers

'Close Encounters' With Gas Well Pollution

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 8:54 am

NPR

Living in the middle of a natural gas boom can be pretty unsettling. The area around the town of Silt, Colo., used to be the kind of sleepy rural place where the tweet of birds was the most you would hear. Now it's hard to make out the birds because of the rumbling of natural gas drilling rigs.

The land here is steep cliffs and valleys. But bare splotches of earth called well pads are all over the place.

"That's the one I'm worried about because it just went in," says Tim Ray.

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1:03am

Tue May 15, 2012
The Fracking Boom: Missing Answers

Sick From Fracking? Doctors, Patients Seek Answers

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 8:48 am

Michelle Salvini (left) and Terri DiCarlo take a break from work outside the Cornerstone Care clinic in Burgettstown, Pa. Mysterious fumes have repeatedly sickened clinic staffers, forcing them to evacuate the building several times.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Kay Allen had just started work, and everything seemed quiet at the Cornerstone Care community health clinic in Burgettstown, Pa. But things didn't stay quiet for long.

"All the girls, they were yelling at me in the back, 'You gotta come out here quick. You gotta come out here quick,' " said Allen, 59, a nurse from Weirton, W.Va.

Allen rushed out front and knew right away what all the yelling was about. The whole place reeked — like someone had spilled a giant bottle of nail polish remover.

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