AS public health researchers we noted your article on fracking (Watchdog raps anti-fracking leaflet, The National, January 4) and wish to highlight the following: Fracking operations involve pumping millions of litres of water containing fracking fluids underground. A small percentage of wastewater contains returned fracking fluids. Estimates vary depending on geological conditions but recent research suggests 4-8 per cent. It is well-established in peer reviewed studies and government reports that fracking fluids and wastewater have contaminated ground and surface waters.

An early peer reviewed study on chemicals in fracking fluids found 25 per cent could cause cancer and mutations, 37 per cent could affect the endocrine system, 40-50 per cent could affect the brain/nervous system, kidneys, immune system and cardiovascular systems. More recent studies support these findings, including a systematic evaluation that examined 240 fracking substances and found evidence suggesting 43 per cent were linked to reproductive toxicity and 40 per cent to developmental toxicity.

In 2011, the New York Times reported “in Texas, which now has about 93,000 natural-gas wells, up from around 58,000 a dozen years ago, a hospital system in six counties with some of the heaviest drilling, said in 2010 that it found a 25 per cent asthma rate for young children, more than three times the state rate of about seven per cent”. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine this year found asthma sufferers who lived near certain levels of shale gas activity were 1.5 to 4.4 times more likely to have an increased risk of asthma attacks.

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Professor Andrew Watterson PhD CFIOSH, Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group, University of Stirling, Scotland Dr Will Dinan PhD, Visiting Researcher Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group and Lecturer, University of Stirling Prof Emeritus Vyvyan Howard MB. ChB. PhD. FRCPath Centre for Molecular Biosciences ,University of Ulster, Northern Ireland Dr David Brown DSc. Toxicologist, Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health project, USA Professor Ricard Clapp DSc MPH, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health, USA Adam Law MD, FRCP, Weill Cornell Medicine, USA (all in a personal capacity) --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

THIS time of the year is very often the worst time for anyone living with a problem drinker. Others can appear to be so happy, but if you happen to be living with someone who drinks excessively, every aspect of life can seem horrendous.

My husband’s drinking was out of control and my sole aim in life was to stop him. The harder I tried to stop him, the more confused, angry, and miserable I became. I put all the blame of my utter misery on him as I was doing everything humanly possible to keep our family’s heads above water, and to no avail.

I had never heard of Al-Anon Family Groups, although I had heard of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), but thought that alcoholics were the down and outs who had the bottle in a brown paper bag, wore a dirty raincoat and lived on the street. My husband was a professional person, as was I, so there was no way he could be an alcoholic!

Through AA ,I heard of Al-Anon and went to my first meeting thinking I did not need help and was unsure why I was going. As I entered I heard laughter and assumed I was in the wrong room but no, this was the Al-Anon meeting.

The fact that these people could actually laugh kept me going back every week until I had stopped crying and was able to listen to what was being shared in that room.

These Al-Anon members were living their lives and living with problem drinkers, but they were supporting each other by sharing their experience, strength, and hope. They were happy at their meeting no matter what was happening at home. They knew that whatever was happening they would be able to handle it, as they had their Al-Anon support to fall back on.

There are many ways Al-Anon can help. There are slogans to use when things get tough – eg Take one day at a time; Easy does it; How important is it? – to mention just a few.

There are many books written by members which all helped me get better. The whole ethos of support, kindness and identification has made me a whole person. I am able to cope with life’s problems in a sensible manner, to look at each situation for what it is, and not make mountains out of mole hills.

If you are affected by someone else’s drinking there is hope of a better way of life if you go to Al-Anon Family Groups.

All Meetings are on our website at www.al-anonuk.org.uk or enquiries@al-anonuk.org.uk. Our Helpline number from 10.00am to 10.pm is 020 7403 0888.

A Grateful Member of Al-Anon Family Groups --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

FORGIVE me, but when some claim the UK market is worth four times as much to Scotland as the EU market, what is their point?

Are they telling me that it’s a binary situation? That Scotland can trade in future with either the EU or the UK. Is that what they’re saying?

If, at some point in the future, however the scenario comes about, Scotland finds herself within the EU single market and the rest of the UK outwith, are they really saying they will cease all trade with Scotland? How will they do that? With gunships and a new Alien Act?

I need to know, you know.

John Daly, Houston, Renfrewshire --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I VOTED Yes in our referendum and would repeat that vote if given a second chance. I voted Remain last year and I firmly believe that was the correct vote. I am most certainly no fan of Theresa May and her buddies, but...

It is the role of civil servants to assist the democratically-elected government to carry out their will as efficiently as possible. This might include private warnings and briefings from time to time that their policy plans are likely to cause problems, but once that advice has been given they should revert to their main role of supporting the plans of the democratically-elected government.

I therefore believe that our EU ambassador was wrong to have made his views on, for example, the “10 year likely period on a trade deal” public when he did – no matter how likely that scenario might have been (Brexit Shambles, The National, January 4).

If the Government representatives really ignore his warnings, then resign and publicly say why: the professional, honourable and powerful thing to do.

Alex Leggatt, Edinburgh