Photo Credit: Melanie Westfall | Daily Texan Staff

A UT researcher reported that products made without bisphenol A (BPA) emitted more synthetic estrogen than products containing the chemical.

Neurobiology professor George Bittner published an article with the results of research from testing commercially-available plastic products advertised as BPA-free. BPA is a chemical plastic additive often found in household products, such as baby bottles. 

According to the article, the researchers found almost all the sampled plastic products released chemicals with estrogenic activity.

Bittner and his team were unavailable to comment on the report’s findings.

Synthetic estrogens can cause health-related problems, including early puberty in females, reduced sperm counts in males, altered functions of reproductive organs, obesity and increased rates of certain cancers, according to the report. 

Fetuses and young children are particularly sensitive to very low doses of chemicals with estrogen activity, according to the report.

Chemistry senior Meredith Ward said that plastic is “bad, in general,” because of the environmental effects it causes and how much of it ends up in landfills.

“I’ve always known that plastics were dangerous, but I guess the public has a misconception of BPA-free plastics being safe when they really aren’t.” Ward said. 

Consumers should realize that they’re not just looking for BPA-free plastics anymore but for plastics that don’t leach synthetic estrogens, said Clemens Lee, mechanical engineering student and member of Engineers for a Sustainable World.

“I believe that, as a consumer, it is important to realize what we are looking for in terms of health safety in our products,” Lee said. “It is also important for a consumer to see beyond the product marketing, but that in itself can be very difficult and require much more research on the consumer’s end.”

Lee said he hopes, with more evaluation and research, there will be safe-to-use products which do not have adverse health effects. Synthetic estrogen has been found in other chemicals, according to Lee, and he said there is progress being made in eliminating estrogen activity from plastic products.

“Now that we have found [estrogen activity] in other chemicals, I believe there should also be a movement towards producing consumer plastics that are [estrogen] free,” Lee said. “Instead of pursuing a ban or elimination of each possible chemical that has [estrogen activity], we should be looking towards creating products that are safe to use.”

Donna Nelson, a University of Oklahoma chemistry professor, selects chemical substances for reactions based on safety, cost, percent yield and purity, but when she became the science adviser for “Breaking Bad,” she also had to consider how easy these chemicals were for actors to pronounce.

Nelson gave an on-campus talk Wednesday about working with Hollywood writers to present more accurate science on TV. Nutritional sciences junior Korbin Evans helped organize the lecture as a part of the Pioneering Leadership Lecture Series, which is intended to increase the success of students from underrepresented populations in science and mathematics.

“It is important that we are exposed sometime during our student career to seeing faces similar to our own,” Evans said.

Nelson said she reached out to the producers of “Breaking Bad” after reading an article about the show and seeing that Vince Gilligan, the head writer of the show, was seeking out scientific advising.

“The part that caught my eye was that Vince Gilligan said that getting the science right was important to him,” Nelson said. “They welcomed constructive comments from a chemically inclined audience because he nor any of his writers had science backgrounds, and they were having to research what they wrote on the web.”

Nelson said scientists were constantly trying to figure out ways to build a “bridge to Hollywood,” where scientists have increased input on the facts behind TV science. According to Nelson, “Breaking Bad” presented the perfect opportunity.

“Those of us in chemistry, interacting through the American Chemical Society, were always bemoaning the fact that a lot of science presented on TV and in the movies was wrong,” Nelson said.

Nelson said the classroom scenes of “Breaking Bad” were an important place to ensure the science was accurate. According to Nelson, the information conveyed in those scenes was intended to reinforce rather than confuse chemistry students, and perhaps even generate more interest in the field.

“I don’t think the public appreciates chemistry and chemists like they should,” Nelson said. “If you think about it, the fabric that they wear, their perfume, hair products, the tile on their floor, the ceilings, the carpeting, car parts, computer parts … it’s all chemicals.”

Mechanical engineering junior Stephen Garza said science deserves to be portrayed accurately on TV. He said he thinks Nelson did a good job of emphasizing that.

“People commit their lives to this,” Garza said. “This is their career, to be working on these topics, and it’s almost out of respect to pay it justice.”

Photo Credit: Michelle Toussaint | Daily Texan Staff

UT researchers found chemical emissions in plastic and foam in baby cribs after conducting studies about infant sleeping environments.

Civil engineering graduate student Brandon Boor led the research, which began about a year ago. Boor said his interest in the matter was sparked by the amount of time babies spend sleeping, potentially being exposed to chemicals.

“Babies spend about 12-14 hours per day sleeping,” Boor said. “When you’re looking at exposure to various air pollutants, most of it occurs in that space.”

Boor said he collected used and new crib mattresses for sampling.

“I bought new mattresses on Amazon and collected old mattresses from around Austin that were donated to me,” Boor said. “I cut them into a smaller size and measured the amount of various chemicals in the foam and on the cover.”     

According to Ying Xu, architectural engineering assistant professor and a research assistant for the study, the team simulated infants’ breathing patterns and body temperature to assess the chemical emissions from the cribs.

“The chamber was room-sized,” Xu said. “The mattress was stored in there, and we placed a heated mannequin to simulate an infant. Then we collected the information from the infant’s inhalation zone.”

Xu said testing the inhalation zone, versus the air in the infant’s room, proved to have an impact on their findings.

“We found that the concentration of chemicals in the inhalation zone is twice as much as the regular air concentration,” Xu said.

According to Atila Novoselac, architectural engineering associate professor and a research assistant for the study, the levels of toxicities that were found in the mattresses are not cause for panic.

“The levels are higher than expected, but they are not alarming,” Novoselac said. “No reason to go burn all the mattresses.”

The study looked into the emission of less potent toxicities, which are only harmful in extremely high concentrations, according to Xu.

“The emission rate is similar to that of vinyl flooring or cleaning products, so it is not that harmful,” Xu said. “But, in our following study, we will be looking into more toxic chemicals, like those from flame retardants and other chemicals that are toxic, especially for children.”

According to Boor, there are no direct implications of the study, but it will lay groundwork for further research.

“There is already a low volatile organic compound labeling system in the U.S., but it could help raise awareness about chemicals in baby products,” Boor said.

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

President Barack Obama awarded chemistry professor Allen Bard with the Enrico Fermi Award, a $50,000 prize he will share with Andrew Sessler, director emeritus of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. The award, which honors distinguished research in energy science and technology over the course of a scientist’s career, is given through the U.S. Department of Energy and was announced Monday.

Chemistry professor Jonathan Sessler, whose father won the award alongside Bard, said Bard has made an impression on him since his early days at UT.

“I have admired Al Bard since I first arrived at UT in 1984. He was already famous back then,” Sessler said. “He remains one of my true heroes: a scientist’s scientist.”

Electrochemistry is the combined study of various kinds of energy, chemicals and electrical systems. Bard said electrochemistry is necessary for creating many complex chemicals that are a vital component of many modern devices.

“[Electrochemistry is] used widely to obtain a lot of chemicals that you can’t make because they don’t occur naturally in nature, like chlorine and aluminum,” Bard said. “All the batteries we have today are made through electrochemical systems.”

Chemistry lecturer Sara Sutcliffe, who was a student of Bard’s in the ’90s, said Bard has always been a memorable and thoughtful instructor.

“I took his class called ‘Electronics for Scientists’ and it was a wonderful experience I will never forget,” Sutcliffe said. “He was patient and would take the time to really help you.”

Sutcliffe said she recalls a particular lesson in which Bard wanted to emphasize the importance of caution. According to Sutcliffe, Bard brought a television into class one day, adjusted the television’s wires and then touched one of them with a screwdriver, producing sparks, smoke and a powerful smell.

“He got the reaction out of the class he wanted,” Sutcliffe said.

Chemistry graduate student Michelle Robinson said Bard’s award speaks to the quality of researchers at the University.

“As a graduate student in the department of chemistry, having a recipient of the Enrico Fermi award is very exciting,” Robinson said. “It enhances the reputation of the department.”

A woman looks for her missing family member at a morgue in Karachi, Pakistan, Wednesday. Pakistani officials say the devastating factory fires that broke out in two major cities killed hundreds.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

KARACHI, Pakistan — Fires at two clothing factories in Pakistan left 283 people dead — many trapped behind locked doors and barred windows — tragedies that highlight workplace perils in a country where many buildings lack basic safety equipment and owners often bribe officials to ignore the violations.

The blazes broke out Tuesday night at a garment factory in the southern port city of Karachi and a shoe manufacturer in the eastern city of Lahore. At least 258 people died in the fire in Karachi, where rescue workers were still searching Wednesday for bodies in the charred building. Another 25 perished in Lahore.

Panicked workers in Karachi had only one way out since the factory’s owner had locked all the other exit doors in response to a recent theft, officials said. Many victims suffocated in the smoke-filled basement.

“The owner of the factory should also be burned to death the way our dear ones have died in a miserable condition,” said Nizam-ud-Din, whose nephew was killed in the fire, one of the deadliest industrial accidents in Pakistani history.

Police were searching for the factory’s managers and placed the owner on a list of people who are not allowed to leave the country, said Roshan Ali Sheikh, a top government official in Karachi.

“It is a criminal act to lock the emergency exit doors, and we are trying to know who did it, and why,” Sheikh said.

The fire started when a boiler exploded and the flames ignited chemicals that were stored in the factory, which manufactured jeans and other clothes for export. Between 300 and 400 workers were inside when the blaze erupted.

Many of the deaths were caused by suffocation as people trapped in the basement were unable to escape when it filled with smoke, said Karachi fire chief Ehtisham-ud-Din.

Those on the upper floors of the five-story building had to break through metal bars covering the windows so they could leap to safety. Dozens were injured doing so, including a 27-year-old pregnant woman.

“When smoke spread all around, I jumped out the window in panic,” said Mohammad Shahzad, who broke an arm and a leg when he hit the ground. “I found myself in the hospital when I regained my senses.”

Others burned to death as they tried to wriggle through the barred windows.

“There were no safety measures taken in the building design,” said senior police official Amir Farooqi. “There was no emergency exit. These people were trapped.”

Firefighters were still battling the blaze Wednesday. The death toll spiked as they entered previously inaccessible parts of the factory and found scores more bodies. The death toll stood at 258 by Wednesday evening, including a 10-year-old boy, said Sheikh. Another 31 people were injured.

Rani Bibi said her two sons-in-law called Tuesday night to say they were trapped in the factory and asked her to tell their wives to take good care of their children. She hasn’t heard from them since, and couldn’t find their bodies in any of the hospitals in the city.

“We don’t know where they are,” said Bibi, tears flowing down her face. “I hope to hear their voices. My two daughters’ lives are ruined.”

The fire that swept through the four-story shoe factory in Lahore left 25 people dead, some from burns and others from suffocation, said senior police officer Multan Khan.

The fire broke out as workers were trying to start a generator after electricity went out in the building. Sparks from the generator made contact with chemicals used to make shoes, igniting the blaze, which blocked the only exit. Firefighters had to break through the building’s brick walls to save people, officials said.

Raza Rumi, an analyst at the Islamabad-based Jinnah Institute, said the fire in Karachi was one of the deadliest industrial accidents in the country’s history.

“It is reflective of the utter collapse of regulation and the enforcement of labor laws in the country,” he said.

The problem has gotten worse in recent years as the federal government handed over factory oversight to provincial authorities, but local governments failed to develop legislation enforcing labor laws or basic safety regulations, Rumi said. Many Pakistani factories lack even basic safety equipment, such as alarms and sprinklers.

In Punjab province, where Lahore is the capital, authorities abolished labor inspections altogether in 2003 to develop a more “business-friendly environment,” Rumi said.

It was unclear whether anger over the fires in Karachi and Lahore will prompt provincial governments to focus on passing new labor regulations.

UT assistant landscaping manager Janet McCreless said she learned there are two types of buildings in Texas: those with termites and those that will get termites.

The University of Texas is a sprawling campus with more than 150 buildings and structures, set in the middle of Texas. Mike Matthews, spokesperson for Austin pest control company Bug Master, said termites thrive in Texas’s wet and warm environment, which typically translates to temperatures in the 70s. Termites infect buildings by coming up through the soil, where they feed upon dead plant material like wood or paper.

McCreless said multiple departments on campus deal with termites, so the cost to treat and fix damages varies greatly and is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Because of that, McCreless said it would be difficult to determine just how much termite infestations cost UT annually in terms of treatment and repairs. Treatment and repairs are handled separately and by different companies. She said whatever the number is, it would be large.

Bug Master inspects the Tower’s bait stations, which are sites used to attract and detect termites. Bug Master also provides treatment options should the company find termites, and UT pays $2,400 a year for Bug Master’s services.

While termites can affect buildings year-round if the weather is right, McCreless said the University is usually swarmed in the spring. She said UT normally has two to three swarms a year.

“If you have an infestation, and I’m talking as a homeowner, then that is probably one of the most expensive and worst issues you can deal with,” McCreless said. “It’s far worse than almost any other pest control problem.”

Kiersten Legg, UT pest control technician, said facilities have to inspect buildings regularly to check for termites.

“A lot of time when they swarm you just know where they’re at,” Legge said. “You can see them. They look like a flying ant.”

McCreless said pest control methods have changed in recent years, and treatment previously meant spraying chemicals that would kill everything. Environmental concerns have stopped use of these types of chemicals, and policies now require much tamer substances.

“We have to learn more and more about their biology, where back in the old days we used broad spectrum chemicals that killed everything and kept them away for a longer period,” McCreless said. “We can’t use those chemicals anymore, so you really have to be a scientist to know how to treat, how to detect and how to stop them.”

McCreless said the University normally only deals with subterranean termites, which live in soil and create mud tubes to climb to the surface. There have been reports of a new species of termite appearing in Austin called the Formosan termite, which normally makes its habitat farther south, in areas like Houston.

“They can take down entire trees in very short periods, while our standard subterranean termites take a much longer time to decay,” McCreless said.

In addition, Formosan termites can move through the air and through the soil, making them more troublesome since they can reach buildings easier. Legge said there have not been any signs of the Formosan termites appearing on campus.

But termites do not always threaten the buildings themselves. Legge said there was an instance recently when they found termites eating away at paper documents. Sometimes termites go after trees, but McCreless said facilities do not always treat those cases.

“It really just depends. There are trees in different stages of life. If it is a majestic, beautiful tree, we would probably treat,” McCreless said. “If it’s an old, decrepit tree, we probably wouldn’t.”

After all, McCreless said, termites are a natural part of the environment and are sometimes a beneficial pest.

“They are beneficial in the natural ecology because they decay, they aid in the decomposition of fallen trees,” McCreless said. “But in the urban environment, they are not so good because they eat the structures that we build to live in.”

There is no direct link between fracking and contamination of groundwater, according to preliminary results of a study by UT’s Energy Institute.

Hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, involves shooting high-pressure water mixed with sand and other chemicals into shale rock causing it to shatter and release natural gas. Though fracking has been used for decades, environmentalists have recently become concerned the process may be polluting ground water, said Charles Groat, geology professor and Energy Institute associate director and project leader.

Research began in May to separate fact from fiction, Groat said. He said the Barnett, Marcellus and Haynesville shales, areas which range from Northeast Texas to the Northeast U.S., have been scientifically tested.

“The basic thing we found out was that the subject so many are concerned about is not actually happening,” Groat said.

Reports of groundwater contamination are rare, Groat said, and when they occur, fracking is not to blame. Rather, above-ground leaks, the mishandling of waste water and poor casing or cement jobs could be causing the contamination.

“If you spill something or something leaks, those are things you have to pay attention to,” Groat said. “Those are problems with anything, though, and not specific to shale fracking.”

This study covers a six-month period and Groat said much more research is needed to find the long-term, cumulative effects and risks of fracking. His study will continue for the remainder of 2011, but he said he recommends an additional baseline study be implemented to learn more about long-term effects.

“Things go on in and around the surface that we need to pay attention to,” Groat said. “Accidents happen, but being educated can prevent them.”

For the remainder of the study, Groat and his team will interview residents of fracking areas, review popular media concerns of fracking and make suggestions on government regulations of the method.

Electrical engineering freshman Shawn Bhalla said he will feel more comfortable about fracking when more research is done.

“I still think there needs to be more safety precautions set in place,” Bhalla said. “I think we will be able to frack with more efficiency [after more research is done.]”

Electrical engineering junior Leonardo Gomide said this study proves how much scientists still need to learn.

“This really shows how little we know about what we are doing to the environment and how quickly things change in the engineering field,” Gomide said.

Printed on Thursday, November 10, 2011 as: Energy Institute research disproves harmful effects of fracking

A chemical plant burns near Waxahachie on Monday. The cause of the fire is unknown and no injuries are reported.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

A fire sparked as workers mixed chemicals at a plant south of Dallas. Massive plumes of black smoke and bright orange flames shot into the sky Monday, forcing schoolchildren and residents to evacuate or take cover indoors to avoid possible exposure to dangerous gases.

Flames engulfed a large complex at a Magnablend, Inc., facility in Waxahachie. The fast-moving blaze overwhelmed a sprinkler system and consumed a fire truck, but no injuries were reported from the fire or resulting smoke.

Waxahachie Fire Chief David Hudgins said it wasn’t immediately clear what chemicals were involved in sparking the fire, but crews expected to quell the flames by late afternoon and allow about 1,000 evacuated residents to return to their homes in the city 30 miles south
of Dallas.

“It’s the building that’s burning, and there’s chemicals inside, multiple kinds of chemicals,” Waxahachie Fire Department spokeswoman Amy Hollywood. “Saying which kind would be speculative.”

Nicolas Brescia of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said air quality readings in the city of about 25,000 did not require further action but that officials would continue monitoring to ensure hazardous materials did not spread outside the plant.

Magnablend spokesman Donald Golden told WFAA-TV that 25 to 30 employees who were inside the plant’s 100,000-square-foot warehouse evacuated safely when the fire broke out before 11 a.m. Golden said the company manufactures about 200 products, including some that are hazardous when ignited.

Authorities had ordered residents closest to the plant to evacuate, while others were advised to stay inside with doors and windows shut.

Stephanie Otto said she was preparing her new restaurant for a Tuesday opening about a quarter-mile from the plant when she heard sirens and walked outside to see a “huge plume.” She said she could hear what sounded like gun shots for about 15 minutes, and there was a strong smell of ammonia.

“It was huge,” Otto said. “It looked like an atomic bomb went off.”

Ellis County emergency management officials issued a mandatory evacuation order for an apartment complex, an elementary school and a junior college. Sheriff’s officials urged residents not to drive toward the area of the fire.

Natural gas has a serious image problem because of its water intensity, real or perceived. The practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has received significant media attention for its high-volume water use and slightly mysterious injection of chemicals into the ground. Water quality is compromised by surface impacts such as well blowouts and the discharging of salty, radioactive water to wastewater treatment plants in Pennsylvania. But using water — and occasionally even contaminating water — is a byproduct of our enormous demand for energy, and we must take responsibility for our demand as well.

Large-volume hydraulic fracturing looks like conspicuous water consumption, with several million gallons of fresh water used in each well. Even though the total volume of water used in a shale gas well is not that large compared with the amount of energy each well produces — about the same amount of water as 50 to 200 people use in a year — it’s jarring to think about that much water being put down a natural gas well when many parts of Texas are experiencing wildfires and people are being asked to let their land die. After all, we’ve never needed to do this before, and we’ve been using natural gas for a long time. (Actually, we have been hydraulically fracturing natural gas wells for decades, but each frack job has historically been smaller because the wells were smaller.) Add blowouts and water contamination in Pennsylvania to the backdrop of Texas water shortages, and natural gas starts to look very ugly. The irony is that natural gas is often less water-intensive and contaminates less water than coal in terms of energy per unit. We don’t seem to have a problem using a dirtier, more water-intensive fuel because, frankly, coal has been dirty and water-intensive for centuries. Large-volume fracking for natural gas is new.

One of the image problems with shale gas — that is, natural gas from the types of rock formations most associated with large-volume fracking — is that we didn’t run out of natural gas before we started fracking.

From the outside, it looks as though the U.S. natural gas industry just started using a lot of water to get natural gas out when it might not have had to, but that image is inaccurate. Conventional natural gas production uses negligible amounts of water per unit energy, true, while shale gas production uses millions of gallons of water mixed with chemicals. But the industry is not moving toward large-volume hydraulic fracturing in shales because it’s easy and cheap but rather because this more difficult geology requires it.

Before, we couldn’t get that natural gas. Now we can, but it requires water. So while we still have large amounts of natural gas that we can get without water for now, that will not be true decades from now. Rather than looking like conspicuous consumption, water used in natural gas extraction will look more like what it is: a necessary input for resource production. As we use more of our “easy” sources of energy, we need to invest more resources into getting the “hard” energy, be they money, people or water. Shale natural gas is a “hard” source of energy, and as we use up the easy natural gas, water might start to look far more valuable as an input to energy extraction than as an input to leaking toilets and inefficient showerheads.

That is not to say the natural gas industry does not need to seriously address some of its big water problems. The lack of information about the chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing needs to end, and both currently available and new environmentally-friendly fracking chemicals need to be developed. Water reuse and use of low-quality waters should occur as much as possible to help conserve our valuable water resources. Well construction standards need to improve, and surface accidents and harmful water discharges should be stopped. But large-volume hydraulic fracturing is still fairly new, and we are fortunate to have other energy sources available while we refine the technologies, chemicals and regulations.

Using water for natural gas extraction is not conspicuous water consumption. If we are to continue to use as much energy as we have become used to using and at the prices we feel we want to pay, we need to recognize that getting fuel out of the ground is a difficult industrial process that requires investment and resources. The more we use, the more investment the process will require, and the water we increasingly require to extract natural gas is a conspicuous example of this.

Grubert is an environmental and water resources engineering graduate student.


The Texas House is currently considering a bill to disclose fluids used for natural gas production in hydraulically fractured wells. H.B. 3328, proposed by Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, would take effect on Sept. 1. Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, has joined the bill as a coauthor, along with several other representatives.

For those unfamiliar with hydraulic fracturing, some natural gas is hard to unearth because the rock it is in has very little space for the gas (porosity) and very few pathways between spaces that allow the gas to move (permeability). A huge technological advancement occurred when the industry figured out how to create artificial pathways by pumping high pressure water mixed with chemicals into the rock until tiny cracks form, repeating the process along a horizontal pathway in the rock. This practice is called multistage horizontal hydraulic fracturing, and it has dramatically increased the United States’ available natural gas supply. However, fracturing fluid providers have been secretive about which chemicals they mix with water before pumping it underground. It is widely believed that more environmentally friendly chemicals are both available and viable but are not yet in wide use.

Hydraulic fracturing fluid disclosure has been a contentious issue in the U.S., largely because of the potential risk that these fluids might come in contact with usable groundwater. Fluids no longer contain components like diesel, but with disclosure not required, it is difficult for citizens to judge exactly how dangerous the fluids might be. The Texas proposal to publicly disclose fracture fluid composition is a good step. We cannot assess risks without knowing what the risky components are.

I’ve written reasonably extensively on natural gas hydraulic fracturing as part of my research, and my in opinion, while the practice is not sufficiently dangerous to stop, it is also nowhere near sufficiently benign to justify keeping the fracture fluid chemicals secret. For now, any claims of safety are difficult to support, as there is little public information as to exactly what goes into hydraulic fracturing water. It’s difficult to write about hydraulic fracturing without bias since many of the more informative reports are industry reports. While I feel that industry reports should be included in research — after all, it is the industry that houses the most expertise about these activities — it would be much more academically comfortable to not rely primarily on these sources. Independent verification is vital.

Hydraulic fracturing poses some risk to groundwater, as does any activity that involves puncturing an aquifer. Most importantly, fluid spills at the surface can have serious impacts on local water. Accident rates are extremely low, but the impact of a single accident can be severe. This is especially true if important aquifers that supply large numbers of people are exposed. While the risk of contamination from a single well might be tiny, some aquifers host hundreds or thousands of wells, increasing the risk that one of them could fail. Still, the benefits of replacing coal with natural gas outweigh the risk of water contamination from hydraulic fracturing, in part because coal mining and combustion have serious implications for water as well.

Knowing what is in hydraulic fracturing fluids will be a major benefit to researchers trying to assess the full environmental and social consequences of different types of energy use. If hydraulic fracturing is low risk, having public evidence to verify will only strengthen the claim that natural gas use is beneficial. If it is not low risk as it is currently practiced, public outcry could move the industry towards more environmentally acceptable fluids. As it stands, people assume the worse, so public opposition to hydraulic fracturing is building both here and abroad. Given that hydraulic fracturing, partnered with horizontal drilling, have enabled the cheap extraction of vast amounts of a fossil fuel cleaner than the one we currently burn (coal), many expected that the technology would be welcomed as an energy savior. Instead, because the industry has clumsily handled the chemicals issue, people have begun to view natural gas with considerable suspicion. Public chemical disclosure should be required as soon as possible so that environmental problems can be better anticipated and addressed before they escalate.

The flavor of hydraulic fracturing that has become a major part of the United States’ energy supply chain started in Texas, and many other states look to Texas for guidance on how to regulate. Texas needs a chemicals disclosure law.

<em>Grubert is an environmental and water resources engineering graduate student.<em/>