Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 2:45 PM


DARRAH, Thomas H., School of Earth Sciences, Ohio State University, 125 South Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210,

Public and political enthusiasm for America’s domestic energy renaissance has at times been tempered by concerns about the potential impacts to human and ecological health. Many stakeholders have focused on the fate and toxicity of anthropogenic contamination (e.g., fracking fluids) without considering how natural geological fluids that are rich in methane, chloride, barium, iron, manganese, radium, arsenic, lithium, etc. may impact health. The need to accurately assess the health risks associated with exposure to these potentially toxic metal- and gas-rich diluted brines is overlooked by many scientists, corporations, and politicians. To date, the majority of published work on these subjects examines the distribution and abundance of natural and anthropogenic substances in air or water (e.g., Osborn et al, 2011; Molofsky et al, 2011; Warner, et al, 2012; Petron et al, 2012; Molofsky et al, 2013; Jackson et al, 2013). While groundwater and air represent important vectors of potential exposure, in-house exposure to natural or anthropogenic substances via stray gas or domestic water use (e.g., showering or bathing) remains a major concern for many stakeholders.

Toxic risk is a function of exposure and hazard (dose-response relationship). Thus, it is essential to characterize the fluid composition, including all potential vectors and mechanisms of exposure, before accurate in vivo and in vitro characterization of human and eco- toxicity can be integrated to determine risk. To begin the process of characterizing the potential health risks of using naturally occurring, metal-rich brackish fluids for domestic water in unconventional energy basins, we conducted a case-study of 60 homes throughout the Appalachian Basin (PA, NY, and WV) including pre-drill groundwater wells and some areas near drilling. We focus on in-house measurements of aerosols released by normal domestic water use via shower simulation studies. These techniques and data are a necessary first step toward a comprehensive understanding of toxic risk assessments from both acute and sub-acute, chronic exposures (via drinking/inhalation) to natural substances in domestic water.