The federal Environmental Protection Agency's detection of arsenic, a known human carcinogen, barium and other contaminants in the well water of homes near natural gas drilling operations in Dimock Township, Pennsylvania, should prompt a nationwide investigation of drilling-linked water pollution.
• Barium, a common constituent of drilling fluids; long-term ingestion at high levels can cause kidney damage;
• Phthalates, a synthetic plastic chemical and probable human carcinogen, according to EPA;
• Glycol compounds common in drilling fluids and associated with damage to kidneys, the nervous system, lungs, heart, testicular damage and anemia;
• Manganese, an naturally occurring element that can damage the nervous system at high levels;
• Phenol, found in some drilling fluids; at high levels can cause irregular heartbeat, liver damage and skin burns;
• Sodium, compounds found in some drilling fluids, at high levels can cause high blood pressure.