EPA has reportedly issued a voluntary information request to nine U.S. companies that use hydraulic fracturing to free up natural gas deposits. The companies have been asked to provide details, including the names of chemicals they use, for a study of the potential health concerns raised by the process. According to the agency, the data collected will be used to complete a congressionally-mandated study of the impact of hydraulic fracturing on nearby drinking water supplies. EPA is expected to provide the study’s initial results by late 2012.  

Hydraulic fracturing is a process that oil and gas extraction companies use to fracture underground rock formations and free up natural gas deposits. Companies using this process typically inject water, sand and various chemicals under high pressure. Surrounding communities have expressed concerns that the process may contaminate drinking-water wells and other water supplies. See BNA Daily Environment Report, September 9, 2010.