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Fracking May Alter Fat Cells: Study

A look at chemicals commonly found in fracking wastewater finds sign that they are influencing cell growth.

Researchers at Duke University and University of Missouri exposed cells to 23 chemicals associated with fracking, wastewater and surface water contaminated with wastewater from fracking sites. They found that exposure at both low and high concentrations of the chemicals and water samples led to changes in the fat cells, according to results published today in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

"One of the perhaps surprising things about this is that we actually saw effects diluting the water," said lead author Chris Kassotis, a postdoctoral researcher at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.

The effects at low concentrations were unexpected, but they suggest that at environmentally-relevant levels, fracking chemicals may interfere with how fat cells are regulated.

The changes were comparable to effects of a pharmaceutical known to increase fat cells, Kassotis said.

The experiment produced "pretty high levels of activity," he said, "at low concentrations."

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