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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 65.93
Liaison Srinivasan Raghavan
Submission Date Feb. 24, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

University of Missouri
IN-2: Innovation 2

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Alicia LaVaute
Sr. Recycling & Waste Minimization Specialist
Sustainability Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Fracking Chemicals Disrupt Hormone Function

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:

University of Missouri researchers have found greater hormone-disrupting properties in water located near hydraulic fracturing drilling sites than in areas without drilling. The researchers also found that 11 chemicals commonly used in the controversial "fracking" method of drilling for oil and natural gas are endocrine disruptors.

Endocrine disruptors interfere with the body's endocrine system, which controls numerous body functions with hormones such as the female hormone estrogen and the male hormone androgen. Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as those studied in the MU research, has been linked by other research to cancer, birth defects and infertility.


A brief description of any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation (if not reported above):

The study, "Estrogen and Androgen Receptor Activities of Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals and Surface and Ground Water in a Drilling-Dense Region," was published in the journal Endocrinology.

"More than 700 chemicals are used in the fracking process, and many of them disturb hormone function," said Susan Nagel, PhD, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and women's health at the MU School of Medicine. "With fracking on the rise, populations may face greater health risks from increased endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure."

The study involved two parts. The research team performed laboratory tests of 12 suspected or known endocrine-disrupting chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, and measured the chemicals' ability to mimic or block the effects of the reproductive sex hormones estrogen and androgen. They found that 11 chemicals blocked estrogen hormones, 10 blocked androgen hormones and one mimicked estrogen.

The researchers also collected samples of ground and surface water from several sites, including:

Accident sites in Garfield County, Colo., where hydraulic fracturing fluids had been spilled
Nearby portions of the Colorado River, the major drainage source for the region
Other parts of Garfield County, Colo., where there had been little drilling
Parts of Boone County, Mo., which had experienced no natural gas drilling
The water samples from drilling sites demonstrated higher endocrine-disrupting activity that could interfere with the body's response to androgen and estrogen hormones. Drilling site water samples had moderate-to-high levels of endocrine-disrupting activity, and samples from the Colorado River showed moderate levels. In comparison, the researchers measured low levels of endocrine-disrupting activity in the Garfield County, Colo., sites that experienced little drilling and the Boone County, Mo., sites with no drilling.

"Fracking is exempt from federal regulations to protect water quality, but spills associated with natural gas drilling can contaminate surface, ground and drinking water," Nagel said. "We found more endocrine-disrupting activity in the water close to drilling locations that had experienced spills than at control sites. This could raise the risk of reproductive, metabolic, neurological and other diseases, especially in children who are exposed to endocrine-disrupting chemicals."


A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
Which of the following STARS subcategories does the innovation most closely relate to? (Select all that apply up to a maximum of five):
Yes or No
Curriculum Yes
Research Yes
Campus Engagement No
Public Engagement ---
Air & Climate Yes
Buildings ---
Dining Services No
Energy Yes
Grounds ---
Purchasing No
Transportation No
Waste ---
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance ---
Diversity & Affordability No
Health, Wellbeing & Work ---
Investment No

Other topic(s) that the innovation relates to that are not listed above:
---

The website URL where information about the innovation is available:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.