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Health Risks Involved in Hydraulic Fracturing (Essay Sample)


Your 2,000-word term paper must address a topic related to surface coal mining, hydraulic fracturing, or agro businesses. The topic should be tightly focused. “Hydraulic fracturing in America” is an example of a topic that is not adequately focused.“Hydraulic fracturing is bad” is another example of a poorly focused topic. Here are some topics that are appropriately focused:
“Health risks associated with hydraulic fracturing”
“Groundwater pollution resulting from surface coal mining”
The purpose of the paper is to present a point of view on an ecological issue, and to develop a point of view using appropriate data, examples, reasons, and/or evidence. This is not a summary paper of articles but an analysis.
Your paper will include about 500 words of background information. The remainder of the paper should deal with an analysis of the journals and conclusions based on the information from the journals. Begin the paper with an introduction, follow this with background information, then the analysis of the articles and finish with a conclusion. This paper is not simply a description of the articles.


Health Risks Involved in Hydraulic Fracturing
Student Name
Hydraulic fracturing is a technique used to drill natural gas where sand particles, millions of liters of water and some chemicals (a mixture of these comprise the fracking fluid) are pumped into the ground to aid in breaking the rocks apart to release the natural gas. The mixture is pressurized to enable the fracturing process with the bore formed being maintained by sand particles after the hydraulic pressure is released from the well. Hydraulic fracturing involves four key processes:
Procuring the needed amount of water
Construction of the well
Stimulation of the well
Disposal of resulting wastes
In hydraulic fracturing, drilling is done past the water table into the coal bed, approximately 10,000 feet below the surface. The process involves pumping the fracturing mixture into the wellbore at a defined rate that would offer sufficient pressure to break apart the shale rocks. The size of the fracture formed is maintained by the introduction of a proppant like sand or ceramic grains that keep the bore formed open (a process referred to as propping) when the injection of the mixture into the ground is stopped. The rock (shale) being drilled into is usually impermeable necessitating the use of high pressures in the process (Bamberger, 2012). Therefore, the propped bore or fracture will form the permeable area to allow the passage of oil, gas and the fracking fluids into the well.
The fracking fluids may leak off into the surrounding permeable rocks at different heights in the ground seeping into the water table. Uncontrolled seepage will enhance different fluid interaction and may alter the geometry of the bore or propped fracture that would decrease the efficiency of the process besides having a load of environmental and health risks. The equipment used in hydraulic fracturing include the slurry blender, fracturing tanks, equipment for storage of the proppant and water, flexible hoses, gauges, pumps and the monitoring unit. Diesel usually powers. This heavy equipment like the pumps and often run continuously.
The purpose of the fracking fluid is to lubricate, extend the fractured bores and to convey the proppant into the intended shale bores underground. Water soluble gels like the guar gum increase the viscosity of the fracking fluid thereby helping the delivery of the proppant into the intended shale bores underground. The fracking fluid is majorly composed of water (about 90%), sand particles (about 9.5%) and chemical additives like the gel, acids, borate salts, polyacrylamide and compressed gases (like nitrogen and carbon dioxide) comprising about 0.5% (Gottardo, 2013). Recent developments have seen the development of fracking fluids from liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and propane removing the need for use of water in the mixture. The choice of proppant for use depends on:
The required nature of permeability
The expected nature of grain strength
The nature and choice of fracking fluid also vary subject to the desired type of fracturing, the characteristics of the water being used and the conditions of the wells being fractured. Hydraulic fracturing increases the rate of recovery of fluids like petroleum, oil and gas from their natural reservoirs (Uddameri, 2015). It can also be used to:
The stimulation of groundwater wells
Generation of electricity
Measuring and analysis of stress in the earth
Disposal of wastes through injection into the thick underground rocks
Though hydraulic fracturing process has a broad scope of applications, it also has serious environmental and health risks that should regularly be assessed to ensure safer and better environment and health propositions. The risks and concerns in hydraulic fracturing include:
Air pollution
Disposal of wastes from the p...
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