ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – A group of North Texas researchers hope to become the first to figure out if the controversial hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” process is to blame for chemicals in well water.
Fracking is a drilling process that blasts millions of gallons of water, for each well, deep into the earth to fracture dense shale and allow natural gas to escape.
A University of Texas at Arlington assistant professor is putting out the call for water samples, from people with wells near gas drilling sites. “We want to connect this to the location where the well water was tested and see if there’s any relationship with where fracking is taking place,” explained Kevin Schug, a UTA Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
The water will be tested on living things – but they’re too small to see with the naked eye. “We would take the water and first put it through a toxicity test where we can tell whether or not the water contains something that would be harmful to, in this case, a bioluminescent microorganism,” Schug said of the process.
The organisms emit light, but contamination dims the light.
The fracking process is widely used across North Texas, in the Barnett Shale and other natural gas formations. Schug says that makes the results even more important to local researchers. “Since we’re [UTA] invested in the community here and everybody’s trying to get a better feeling for that, we really wanted to figure out an objective study to get some information that would be more conclusive.”
Schug says this is the first such study of its type.
Those interested in finding out how to submit a water sample can email the research team at firstname.lastname@example.org.