Hydraulic fracturing, coupled with the advances in horizontal drilling, has been used for recovering oil and natural gas from shale formations and has aided in increasing the production of these energy resources. The large volumes of hydraulic fracturing fluids used in this technology contain chemical additives, which may be toxic organics or produce toxic degradation byproducts. This paper investigated the chemicals introduced into the hydraulic fracturing fluids for completed wells located in Pennsylvania and West Virginia from data provided by the well operators. The results showed a total of 5071 wells, with average water volumes of 5,383,743 ± 2,789,077 gal (mean ± standard deviation). A total of 517 chemicals was introduced into the formulated hydraulic fracturing fluids. Of the 517 chemicals listed by the operators, 96 were inorganic compounds, 358 chemicals were organic species, and the remaining 63 cannot be identified. Many toxic organics were used in the hydraulic fracturing fluids. Some of them are carcinogenic, including formaldehyde, naphthalene, and acrylamide. The degradation of alkylphenol ethoxylates would produce more toxic, persistent, and estrogenic intermediates. Acrylamide monomer as a primary degradation intermediate of polyacrylamides is carcinogenic. Most of the chemicals appearing in the hydraulic fracturing fluids can be removed when adopting the appropriate treatments.
Journal of Environmental Management – Elsevier
Published: Sep 15, 2017
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