Kassotis CD, Tillitt DE, Lin CH, McElroy JA, Nagel SC. 2016. “Endocrine-disrupting chemicals and oil and natural gas operations: potential environmental contamination and recommendations to assess complex environmental mixtures.” Environ Health Perspect 124:256–264; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1409535
Background: Hydraulic fracturing technologies, developed over the last 65 years, have only recently been combined with horizontal drilling to unlock oil and gas reserves previously deemed inaccessible. Although these technologies have dramatically increased domestic oil and natural gas production, they have also raised concerns for the potential contamination of local water supplies with the approximately 1,000 chemicals that are used throughout the process, including many known or suspected endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
Objectives: We discuss the need for an endocrine component to health assessments for drilling-dense regions in the context of hormonal and antihormonal activities for chemicals used.
Methods: We discuss the literature on a) surface and groundwater contamination by oil and gas extraction operations, and b) potential human exposure, particularly in the context of the total hormonal and antihormonal activities present in surface and groundwater from natural and anthropogenic sources; we also discuss initial analytical results and critical knowledge gaps.
Discussion: In light of the potential for environmental release of oil and gas chemicals that can disrupt hormone receptor systems, we recommend methods for assessing complex hormonally active environmental mixtures.
Conclusions: We describe a need for an endocrine-centric component for overall health assessments and provide information supporting the idea that using such a component will help explain reported adverse health trends as well as help develop recommendations for environmental impact assessments and monitoring programs.