Our Water, Our Health: A Talk by Sandra Steingraber

Julie Slavet
Jan 17, 2013

At TTF, we are concerned about all activities that happen within our watershed that could affect the health of our water. The protection of water sources is a hot topic around the world — people are even comparing water to oil as the next big conflict-causing resource. Future wars might be over water access! That’s why keeping water clean is so important – everyone uses it.

Right here in Pennsylvania we are facing danger to our water through the use of “fracking” technology in natural gas extraction.

Hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking”, refers to the use of a chemical-and-water solution that is forced down wells to remove natural gases  deep under the Earth’s surface. The ingredients in the solution that drillers use to “frack” with does not have to be made public, so the chemicals used are in many cases a mystery. This use of a mystery chemical solution, forced deep underground, is troubling because there is a strong possibility of damaging the ground water and making it dangerous to consume. Unlike water that is polluted on the surface, which people can access and clean, groundwater is very hard to clean and track once it gets polluted.

Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D. on the bank of the Illinois River  Credit: © Benjamin Gervais / The PPC
Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D. on the bank of the Illinois River Credit: © Benjamin Gervais / The PPC

TTF Educator Molly Finch attended the recent Academy of Natural Sciences program,”Our Water, Our Health: Are We in Danger?”. Speaker Sandra Steingraber, an active advocate for the anti-fracking movement, shared research that illuminates the connection between community health and toxins found in our water.

Her talk was impressive because it used hard science and personal experience to illustrate the real danger of introducing toxins into our drinking water. One of the “fun facts” she shared that I found stunning was the fact that during a 10-minute shower your body absorbs, through the skin, as much as a ½ gallon of water. That means that people don’t have to drink tainted water to be affected, which means that the affects of polluted water sources is not something that can be avoided by just drinking bottled water.

The world that Sandra was describing sounded like a place full of unknown dangers, and it is the world we currently live in! But I also felt empowered by knowledge. Knowledge is power, and if knowledge is shared it can lead to mutual understanding because everyone can understand their physical need for water (I mean, more then half of our body weigh is water!). I encourage you to educate yourself on the subject of “fracking” and the possible dangers it could create for our fresh water resources and in turn, our health.

Living Downstream_2_bookcover(1)
Cover design by Georgia Feldman Cover photograph © GettyImages Author photography by Benjamin Gervais / The People’s Picture Company

If you are interested in learning more about Sandra Steingraber and the issue of fracking, check out the following resources:

For ways you can improve the TTF watershed, visit our “What You Can Do” page.

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