Hydraulic fracturing is a controversial method of natural gas extraction that uses high pressure water to release natural gas. Although research has been conducted on the environmental impact of fracking, toxicological and geological research concerning naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORMs) has been scarce. Radionuclides are known to bioaccumulate in the environment and can have toxic effects on humans. This study aims to examine the extent of biomagnification of radium-226 from fracking sites to local water (lakes) and agriculture (farmland, livestock pastures). Water samples from areas near fracking sites and homogenized samples of soil and crops will be analyzed by gamma spectroscopy. The data set is expected to be non-normal, therefore, the Mann-Whitney U-test will be used to compare samples between fracking and non-fracking regions. If NORM contamination is significant, it can then be linked to health impacts in humans by assessing carcinogenic risk. If the results show that there are higher levels of Ra-226 in the water near fracking sites and cattle water compared to the control water, as well as progressively higher levels of Ra-226 contamination throughout trophic levels, it can be concluded that fracking poses a potentially radioactive threat to human health. The results of our proposal may indicate tremendous implications on human health as Ra-226 is a chemical that bioaccumulates. Therefore, the results of our study may demonstrate the detrimental impact of radium through fracking.
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