A Discussion of Radioisotopes and Other Contaminants Released into the Environment from Pennsylvania Oil/Gas Extraction
Presented by Dr. Michael Ketterer, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Northern Arizona University
February 22, 2023
This webinar will review and discuss the results from a recent study performed by Wayne State
University, of the naturally occurring radioisotopes found in the environment near oil/gas
extraction installations in Pennsylvania. The WSU study focused on naturally occurring
radioisotopes such as 226 Ra, 228 Ra, 210 Po and 210 Pb, which are present in brines, salt deposits and geologic reservoirs that serve as oil/gas reservoirs. When oil and gas are extracted by “fracking” and related processes, these radioisotopes are liberated and can be dispersed into the surface environment, resulting in water, air and soil contamination.
The presentation will evaluate the findings of the Wayne State study, and compare these
results to background radioisotope concentrations present in unaffected areas vs. areas of
Pennsylvania known to have been impacted by oil/gas radioisotopes. Also discussed will be
other environmental hazards associated with oil/gas extraction, such as the contamination of
surface and shallow groundwater via materials used in fracking fluids, and the venting of large
quantities of volatile organic compounds into the air at wellheads.