For more than a decade, Bryan Latkanich has discussed his concerns about fracking chemicals contaminating the water and air near his home with anyone who would listen.
Latkanich is a resident of Washington County, Pennsylvania, one of the state’s most heavily fracked regions. In 2020, an Environmental Health News investigation found evidence that Latkanich and his son Ryan had been exposed to harmful chemicals like benzene, toluene and styrene.
Now, researchers have uncovered more harmful substances in Latkanich’s tap water —“forever chemicals.”
Last year it was revealed that these chemicals, collectively referred to as PFAS (per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances), have been used in U.S. oil and gas wells for decades. As far as the experts we spoke with know, this is the first time PFAS that may be linked to fracking have been detected in household drinking water.
The chemicals don’t break down naturally, so they linger in the environment and human bodies. Exposure is linked to health problems including kidney and testicular cancer, liver and thyroid problems, reproductive problems, lowered vaccine efficacy in children and increased risk of birth defects, among others.