Why current chemical disclosure policies are not sufficient when it comes to oil and gas production

The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX) recently released a new report on the potential health effects of chemicals identified in nearly 1,000 products used in natural gas operations.

TEDX reviewed something called the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for each of 980 products. Under U.S. law, chemical manufacturers and importers are required to to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import, and to provide information about them through labels on shipped containers and more detailed information sheets called material safety data sheets (MSDSs). Employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must ensure that employees are provided access to MSDSs.

When it comes to oil and gas production, information on chemicals is essential for both workers on site as well as families living near operations. The findings of the TEDX review, however, were startling.  

Out of 980 products, the MSDS for almost half of them (421) reported less than 1% of the total composition of the product. Out of 980 products, nearly 15% (136) reported less than 50% of the composition. Information on over half of the chemical composition was only reported for 291--or 30%-- of the products. Only 133 products (14%) had information on more than 95% of their full composition.

TEDX also found that 90% of these products had at least one potential health effect. Nearly half of the products (47%) contained one or more chemicals considered to be endocrine disruptors, which are "chemicals that interfere with the endocrine system, including development and reproduction."

More details are available on the TEDX website. The bottom line is that communities need full disclosure of the chemical ingredients of each chemical used near homes and drinking water sources. An MSDS is clearly not sufficient to meet this need.