A Framework for Identifying Organic Compounds of Concern in Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids Based on Their Mobility and Persistence in Groundwater

Environmental Science and Technology Letters (May 16, 2015, v2 n6 p158–164; DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.5b00090) / by Jessica D. Rogers, et al.

[Eureka Alert] A new University of Colorado Boulder framework used to screen hundreds of organic chemical compounds used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, shows that 15 may be of concern as groundwater contaminants based on their toxicity, mobility, persistence and frequency of use…

[Abstract] We developed a screening framework for identifying organic components of hydraulic fracturing fluid with increased probability of exposure via groundwater based on mobility, persistence, toxicity, and frequency of use. Of 996 organic fracturing fluid compounds identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and FracFocus for four states, data were available to perform an initial screening of 659 compounds for sufficient mobility and persistence to reach a water well under fast and slow groundwater transport scenarios. For the fast transport scenario, 15 compounds identified on at least 50 FracFocus reports were predicted to have an elevated exposure potential, which was defined as ≥10% of the initial concentration remaining at a transport distance of 94 m, the average setback distance in the United States. Of these 15 compounds, two were identified on >20% of FracFocus reports (naphthalene and 2-butoxyethanol), four were compounds identified on >5% of reports, and three had health-based standards.


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