Breast Cancer Concerns

Industry-supported research has claimed that fracking chemicals don’t release into the air or groundwater, but independent research has repeatedly suggested otherwise. Flower Mound, a suburb of Dallas, Texas, is one of many towns across the country that became a popular source of fracking. The town sits atop the Barnett Shale, a formation that had been particularly profitable to oil and gas interests since drilling began in 2004. At one point, the suburb had an estimated 12,000 gas wells in operation.

In 2010, residents of Flower Mound voiced concerns that breast cancer cases seemed unusually common in the suburb. The Texas Department of State Health Services agreed to investigate and concluded in 2011 that breast cancer rates were elevated. However, state regulators claimed there was no reason for concern and attributed the elevated rates to population growth.

In 2014, a law professor at the University of Texas in Austin analyzed the state’s data and concluded that state officials downplayed a potential breast cancer cluster in the city. “We really don’t have enough information to dismiss people’s concerns,” researcher Rachel Rawlins said at the time.

In response, the state agreed to re-analyze data and shot back with the somewhat odd assurance that “female breast cancer was the only type of cancer considered in this report where the observed number of cases was higher than expected.” Our state regulators agreed to continue monitoring cancer cases in the area due to “the level of concern in the community” but remained adamantly pro-fracking.

 

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