Comparing conventional and green fracturing fluids by chemical characterisation and effect-based screening
“There is public and scientific concern about air, soil and water contamination and possible adverse environmental and human health effects as a result of hydraulic fracturing activities. The use of greener chemicals in fracturing fluid aims to mitigate these effects.
This study compares fracturing fluids marketed as either ‘conventional’ or ‘green’, as assessed by their chemical composition and their toxicity in bioassays. Chemical composition was analysed via non-target screening using liquid chromatography – high resolution mass spectrometry, while toxicity was evaluated by the Ames fluctuation test to assess mutagenicity and CALUX reporter gene assays to determine specific toxicity.
Overall, the results do not indicate that the ‘green’ fluids are less harmful than the ‘conventional’ ones. First, there is no clear indication that the selected green fluids contain chemicals present at lower concentrations than the selected conventional fluids. Second, the predicted environmental fate of the identified compounds does not seem to be clearly distinct between the ‘green’ and ‘conventional’ fluids, based on the available data for the top five chemicals based on signal intensity that were tentatively identified. Furthermore, Ames fluctuation test results indicate that the green fluids have a similar genotoxic potential than the conventional fluids. Results of the CALUX reporter gene assays add to the evidence that there is no clear difference between the green and conventional fluids. These results do not support the claim that currently available and tested green-labeled fracturing fluids are environmentally more friendly alternatives to conventional fracturing fluids.”
(Citation: Faber, A.H., Brunner, A.M., Dingemans, M.M.L., et.al. – Comparing conventional and green fracturing fluids by chemical characterisation and effect-based screening – Science of the Total Environment 794(2021)art. no. 148727 – DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.148727 – (Open Access))
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