Millions of Americans could be exposed to potentially harmful chemicals released by nearby natural gas wells, according to a recent study by University of Missouri researchers.
The analysis, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, reviewed more than 100 scientific studies that examined chemicals used in unconventional oil and gas operations, which combine conventional drilling and "fracking."
The researchers concluded that the wells could release a complex mixture of chemicals that might disrupt hormones in humans' endocrine systems — potentially causing problems in development and reproduction.
The study also said that research into chemicals released by natural gas operations is lacking.
“Studying these complex mixtures of chemicals released during fracking is necessary since the chemical identities used in oil and natural gas operations are not always known," said Susan Nagel of Missouri's medical school.
The report said that more than 15 million Americans live within one mile of unconventional oil and gas wells.