Chemical and bioassay assessment of waters related to hydraulic fracturing at a tight gas production site

Ann Hélène Faber*, Mark P.J.A. Annevelink, Paul P. Schot, Kirsten A. Baken, Merijn Schriks, Erik Emke, Pim de Voogt, Annemarie P. van Wezel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Publicly available chemical assessments of hydraulic fracturing related waters are generally based on shale gas practices in the U.S. There is a lack of information on hydraulic fracturing related gas development from EU countries and more generally on other types of extractions. This research fills this knowledge gap by presenting chemical and bioassay assessments of hydraulic fracturing related waters from a tight gas development in the Netherlands. Fracturing fluid, flowback water and groundwater from surrounding aquifers before and after the actual fracturing were analysed by means of high resolution liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry, the Ames test and three chemical activated luciferase gene expression bioassays aimed at determining genotoxicity, oxidative stress response and polyaromatic hydrocarbon contamination. After sample enrichment a higher number of peaks can be found in both fracturing fluid and flowback samples. No clear differences in chemical composition were shown in the groundwater samples before and after hydraulic fracturing. Preliminary environmental fate data of the tentatively identified chemicals points towards persistence in water. Clear genotoxic and oxidative stress responses were found in the fracturing fluid and flowback samples. A preliminary suspect screening resulted in 25 and 36 matches in positive and negative ionisation respectively with the 338 possible suspect candidates on the list. Extensive measures relating to the handling, transport and treatment of hydraulic fracturing related waters are currently in place within the Dutch context. The results of the present study provide a scientific justification for such measures taken to avoid adverse environmental and human health impacts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)636-646
Number of pages11
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume690
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Ames test
  • CALUX test
  • Flowback water
  • Fracturing fluid
  • Groundwater
  • Non-target analysis

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