On Monday the political buffoon Boris Johnson, who Londoners inexplicably voted in as their Mayor, wrote a particularly ignorant article on fracking in his regular Daily Telegraph column. ("Time to give these Numbies a stake in their own shale-rich land," 30 June,
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/borisjohnson/10934673/Time-to-give-these-Numbies-a-stake-in-their-own-shale-rich-land.html) I sent this letter to the newspaper to correct it, but they declined to publish it.
London Mayor Boris Johnson wrote with an amusing flourish, but his latest article on fracking (Time to give Numbies a stake in their own shale-rich land,” June 30) is virtually a fact-free zone.
Boris asserts “all the environmental questions – about tainting the water supply and so on – have been resoundingly and reassuringly answered.” Such suggestions demonstrate he is way out of his comfort zone.
For example, a study published by academic researchers at the University of Missouri at the end of last year found greater hormone- disrupting (so-called ‘gender-bender- chemicals) properties in water located near fracking than in areas without drilling. This was first reported in the UK by your environmental columnist Geoffrey Lean in December last year (http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/geoffreylean/100251462/sex-change-chemicals-linked-to-fracking/)
Endocrine disruptors interfere with the body’s endocrine system, which controls numerous body functions with hormones such as the female hormone estrogen and the male hormone androgen. Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as those studied in the MU research, has been linked by other research to cancer, birth defects and infertility. (for full study see: http://medicine.missouri.edu/news/0214.php).
Additionally there is the prospective radon risk from fracked gas released in the gas stream as the shale rock is cracked underground, and pumped into the nation’s kitchens and burned on hobs. The methane gas is burned as a fuel, but the inert radon remains in the room and is inhaled.
Radon gas contamination of homes is the second highest cause of UK lung cancers after smoking.( Health Protection Agency report on Radon and Public Health -Report of an independent Advisory Group on Ionising Radiation: Docs RCE 11, HPA 2009: www.hpa.org.uk),
The government’s own health advisory body, Public Heath England in its revised report, Review of the Potential Public Health Impacts of Exposure to Chemical and Radioactive Pollutants as a Result of Shale Gas Extraction, agrees this could be a future health hazard. This is what the PHE report actually states:
“If the natural gas delivery point were to be close to the extraction point with a short transit time, radon present in the natural gas would have little time to decay….there is therefore, the potential for radon gas to be present in natural gas extracted from UK shale.” (http://www.hpa.org.uk/webc/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1317140158707)
Another detailed US study on radon risks, by veteran physicist, Dr Marvin Resnikoff, on the huge shale reserves in the Marcellus shelf near New York can be accessed at:
It is dangerous to ignore these serious public health warnings from America, who have much more experience with fracking than in the UK. Boris should do his homework before he next goes into print on fracking.