A former president of the Colorado Medical Society calls the current hydraulic fracturing boom in the state’s oil and gas industry an “experiment in motion” for the public at large.
One that could lead to higher rates of cancer and other illnesses over the next 10 to 15 years.
Dr. Michael Pramenko, a Grand Junction family physician, says he isn’t as worried about acute cases of exposure to carcinogens in “fracking” fluid – although he has treated a patient who accidently guzzled cancer-causing benzene. Pramenko says he is more concerned with long-term exposure from tainted water.
“Are there people out there being exposed to low quantities [of carcinogens] that we won’t ever know about? Sure,” he said. “Are there going to be some cancers down the road that come about across the United States? I think that’s true.”
Natural gas production in Colorado has risen to all-time highs, and oil production has reached the highest level since 1957 – mostly due to the huge Wattenberg Field northeast of the Denver metro area. Spills of tainted water and toxic chemicals such as benzene are also on the rise.