Profit Above Health: The Hidden Costs of Fracking

Artist: Polly Peterson

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Inspired by the article “America’s Radioactive Secret” in the January 2020 issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, this quilt square highlights a few of the known side effects of handling the radioactive water byproducts of fracking. For decades, the oil industry has been aware that some batches of brine, the waste water used to expel oil and gas, contain hazardous levels of alpha radiation. Efforts to quantify this radiation have been squelched by the industry because they would be “too expensive”. Most of the workers handling this waste are unaware of the radiation risk and take no monitoring or safety equipment precautions. Many truck drivers have suffered rashes and above average rates of cancer which the fracking industry blames on other lifestyle choices. The waster is discarded in local waterways and landfills, or even concentrated and sold as de-icer or dust-reducing products for roadways. Some living near the dump sites and have experienced ill health.

The quilt square was created using tie dye, landscape quilting, and applique with hand embellishment using embroidery floss and notions.