Research has shown that a chemical used in hydraulic fracturing – known as fracking – could potentially interfere with male reproductive hormones.
According to a new study, fracking can have an impact on men’s health, as a chemical used in the process – Genapol-X100 – can block the effects of male reproductive hormones. The chemical was found to block the effects of testosterone and other male sex hormones known as androgens.
Interfering with reproductive hormones
Fracking involves drilling and hydraulic extraction by injecting mixtures of industrial chemicals at high pressure into horizontal bore wells. Fracking chemicals contaminate the environment, including lake, groundwater and wastewater, and they are likely to affect everyone that is exposed to this group of chemicals, according to lead researcher Phum Tachachartvanich, PhD, if the University of California, Davis in Davis, Calif.
Tachachartvanich said: “Possible adverse health outcomes associated with anti-androgen exposure are abnormal reproductive function, male infertility and disrupted testicular and prostate development.”
“The widespread use of fracking has led to concerns of potential negative impacts on both the environment and human health,” Tachachartvanich said. “Everyone should be concerned about fracking as the wastewater generated has potential endocrine-disrupting effects, which can adversely affect the general population.”
They then used a computer model to rank 60 hydraulic fracturing chemicals used in California, based on the predicted potential of each chemical to interfere with androgens’ ability to bind with cells in the body. Based on the rankings, they used a cell model to verify the top five fracking chemicals that showed the highest potential to interfere with this process.
The researchers then measured the androgen binding activity in the cell model for each chemical. Of the five fracking chemicals tested, Genapol-X100 significantly inhibited androgen binding activity.
Tachachartvanich said: “This suggests Genapol-X100 has endocrine-disrupting abilities.”