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Journal of Environmental and Public Health
Volume 2014, Article ID 656824, 10 pages
Review Article

Hydraulic Fracturing: Paving the Way for a Sustainable Future?

Department of Public Health, 390 HPER Building, 1914 Andy Holt Avenue, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA

Received 19 December 2013; Revised 13 February 2014; Accepted 26 February 2014; Published 25 March 2014

Academic Editor: Chunrong Jia

Copyright © 2014 Jiangang Chen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


With the introduction of hydraulic fracturing technology, the United States has become the largest natural gas producer in the world with a substantial portion of the production coming from shale plays. In this review, we examined current hydraulic fracturing literature including associated wastewater management on quantity and quality of groundwater. We conclude that proper documentation/reporting systems for wastewater discharge and spills need to be enforced at the federal, state, and industrial level. Furthermore, Underground Injection Control (UIC) requirements under SDWA should be extended to hydraulic fracturing operations regardless if diesel fuel is used as a fracturing fluid or not. One of the biggest barriers that hinder the advancement of our knowledge on the hydraulic fracturing process is the lack of transparency of chemicals used in the practice. Federal laws mandating hydraulic companies to disclose fracturing fluid composition and concentration not only to federal and state regulatory agencies but also to health care professionals would encourage this practice. The full disclosure of fracturing chemicals will allow future research to fill knowledge gaps for a better understanding of the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on human health and the environment.