For years, the oil and gas industry has worked to convince Americans that the rush to drill shale wells across the country will not only provide large corporations with lavish profits, but will also create enormous numbers of attractive and high-paid jobs, transforming the economies of small towns and cities that greenlight drilling.
The industry's numbers are often picked up by policy-makers and politicians who back drilling, in part because talk of job growth is an especially alluring idea in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse.
But numerous independent studies have conclude that the industry vastly overstated the number of jobs that fracking has created, and that the economic benefits have been overblown.
A growing body of research suggests that not only does the industry create fewer jobs than promised, the jobs that are created come with serious dangers for the workers who take them.
Research made public late last month suggests that some of those jobs may be even more hazardous to workers than previously believed, calling into question the true benefits of the boom.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released preliminary results from its workplace hazard evaluations at unconventional oil and gas wells – and they show that workers can be exposed to high levels of benzene during fracking flowback.
A striking 15 of 17 samples were over workplace limits set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIOSH standards are often used by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to gauge whether a chemical exposure is illegally high.