Nav: Home

Testing the waters

January 24, 2017

Researchers at the University of Alberta have conducted the first-ever study to use hydraulic fracturing fluids to examine effects on aquatic animals, such as rainbow trout. Horizontal drilling with high-volume hydraulic fracturing is a practice used globally for extracting oil and gas from tight reservoirs. Hydraulic fracturing uses large quantities of water and poses many environmental hazards in water, from contamination to spills.

A recent study examines the impact of the fluids produced by hydraulic fracturing on freshwater rainbow trout. Conducted in collaboration with industry partner Encana, the study was led by Daniel Alessi and Greg Goss in the Faculty of Science and Jon Martin in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry.

"The end goal is to understand the effects of the spills, should they occur, on native aquatic animals," explains Greg Goss, professor in the University of Alberta's Department of Biological Sciences. "This will help in both environmental policy, water treatment options for onsite water management and improved mitigation policy and programs."

This is the first-ever study to use fluids actually produced by hydraulic fracturing to examine their impact on aquatic animals. Comparable to many other species in northern countries, rainbow trout are a freshwater fish with cultural and economic implications, making them the ideal subject to study.

"To our knowledge, we are the only toxicology researchers with access to examine these fluids as they are actually produced in the well," says Daniel Alessi, assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. "We are fortunate enough to have a company such as EnCana provide us the fluids to perform this study as a means to improve their environmental stewardship."

In their study, they found that fluids produced by hydraulic fracturing have significant negative effects on rainbow trout, even at greater than 100 fold dilutions and these effects include oxidative stress, endocrine disruption, and biotransformation which may lead to longer term impacts on populations where spills have occurred.

The results provide a basis for both regulators and industry to develop policies and procedures that will help reduce the negative effects of spills, as well as ensure that the clean up of the zone of impact is done appropriately.

The team of researchers plan to conduct long-term studies to examine the potential effects of these hydraulic fracturing, fluids being present in a stream, mimicking the actual values present after a spill.

"We are only just starting to examine these effects and examine some of the other characteristics of spills," says Goss. "From here, we hope to inform industry, government and the public alike about the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing, on our water and the animals who live there."
The paper, "Effects on Biotransformation, Oxidative Stress, and Endocrine Disruption in Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) Exposed to Hydraulic Fracturing Flowback and Produced Water", was published in Environmental Science and Technology.

University of Alberta

Related Hydraulic Fracturing Articles:

Fracking chemical may interfere with male sex hormone receptor
A chemical used in hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking, has the potential to interfere with reproductive hormones in men, according to research accepted for presentation at ENDO 2020, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting, and publication in a special supplemental section of the Journal of the Endocrine Society.
Paper: Disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing poses dangers to drivers
A new paper co-written by Yilan Xu, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, shows that the growing traffic burden in shale energy boomtowns from trucks hauling wastewater to disposal sites resulted in a surge of road fatalities and severe accidents.
Water reuse could be key for future of hydraulic fracturing
Enough water will come from the ground as a byproduct of oil production from unconventional reservoirs during the coming decades to theoretically counter the need to use fresh water for hydraulic fracturing operations in many of the nation's large oil-producing areas.
UTA study examines potential sources of groundwater contamination in private wells
A study led by environmental researchers at The University of Texas at Arlington suggests a disconnect between the perception of groundwater contamination and the extent to which that contamination is attributable to oil and natural gas extraction.
Swapping water for CO2 could make fracking greener and more effective
Scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and China University of Petroleum (Beijing) have demonstrated that CO2 may make a better hydraulic fracturing (fracking) fluid than water.
Federal research significant in environmental rule-making
Federally-sponsored science plays a more significant role in bringing together stakeholders and facilitating environmental governance debates than all other types of research, according to an international team of researchers.
Studies link earthquakes to fracking in the central and eastern US
Small earthquakes in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas can be linked to hydraulic fracturing wells in those regions, according to researchers speaking at the SSA 2019 Annual Meeting.
Location of wastewater disposal drives induced seismicity at US oil sites
The depth of the rock layer that serves as the disposal site for wastewater produced during unconventional oil extraction plays a significant role in whether that disposal triggers earthquakes in the US, according to a new study that takes a broad look at the issue.
A steady increase in the water footprint at US fracking sites
Water use for hydraulic fracturing (commonly referred to as 'fracking') in the US has been increasing at individual facilities in recent years, even as unconventional oil and gas production has more broadly declined, a new study reports.
Water use for fracking has risen by up to 770 percent since 2011
The amount of water used per well for fracking surged by up to 770 percent between 2011 and 2016 in all major US shale gas- and oil-producing regions, a Duke University study finds.
More Hydraulic Fracturing News and Hydraulic Fracturing Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at