Fracking contaminated drinking water

Scientific American has an article that explains that a former EPA scientist has found contaminants in drinking water that came from fracking. Drinking water from Pavillion WY smells and tastes bad. There are many natural gas wells in the area, many shallow wells under 2000 feet deep. Chemicals used in fracking have been found in well water.

Many labs analyzing well water originally didn’t find fracking chemicals. But it’s not that simple.

“Conducting a groundwater investigation related to fracking is extremely complicated,” DiGiulio said. “It is difficult because a lot of the compounds used for hydraulic fracturing are not commonly analyzed for in commercial labs.”

More recent test have found methanol, diesel compounds, and other fracking chemicals in wells. Many of these chemicals are unstudied, and we don’t know what the safe levels are for them.

Unsurprisingly, industry groups disagree with the findings. More studies need to be done to find how fracking can be done such that it won’t contaminate well water.

New spinal cells for rats

Researchers announced this week that they have regrown part of the spinal column of rats. They implanted neural stem cells in the corticospinal tract of rats, and managed to get them to grow as spinal cord cells. The rats gained an increase in motor function (they could move better after the new cells grew). Previous research had tried to do something similar, but this was the first time they got regeneration of spinal cells. This work shows promise for creating new therapies for humans.

“We humans use corticospinal axons for voluntary movement,” said Tuszynski. “In the absence of regeneration of this system in previous studies, I was doubtful that most therapies taken to humans would improve function. Now that we can regenerate the most important motor system for humans, I think that the potential for translation is more promising.”