Brian Fontenot and Kevin Shug, two of the authors of a new study by researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington found elevated levels of arsenic and other heavy metals in groundwater near natural gas fracking sites in Texas' Barnett Shale. While the findings are far from conclusive, the study provides further evidence tying fracking to arsenic contamination. An internal Environment Protection Agency PowerPoint presentation recently obtained by the Los Angeles Times warned that wells near Dimock, Pa., showed elevated levels of arsenic in the groundwater. The EPA also found arsenic in groundwater near fracking sites in Pavillion, Wyo., in 2009, a study the agency later abandoned. ProPublica talked with Brian Fontenot, the paper's lead author, about how his team carried out the study and why it matters. Fontenot, and another author, about how his team carried out the study and why it matters. Fontenot and another author, Laura Hunt, work for the EPA in Dallas, but they conducted the study on their own time in collaboration with several UT Arlington researchers. Here's an edited version of our interview: What led you guys to do the study? We were sort of talking around lunch one day, and came up with the idea of actually going out and testing water in the Barnett Shale. We'd heard all the things that you see in the media, all the sort of really left-wing stuff and right wing stuff, but there weren't a whole lot of answers out there in terms of an actual scientific study of water in the Barnett Shale. Our main intent was to bring an unbiased viewpoint here, to just look at the water, see if we could find anything, and report what we found. What kind of previous studies had been done in this vein? The closest analog that I could find to our type of study are the things that have been done in the Marcellus Shale, with Rob Jackson's group out at Duke University. Ours is set up very similarly to theirs in that we went out at Duke University. Ours is set up very similarly to theirs in that we went out to private landowners' wells and sampled their water wells and essayed them for various things. We decided to go with a list of chemicals thought to be included in hydraulic fracturing that was actually released in a congressional report. Our plan was to sample everyone's water that we could, and then go through that list of these potential chemical compounds within the congressional list. How did you do it? We were able to get a press release put out from UT Arlington that went into the local newspapers that essentially called for volunteers to be participants in the study. For being a participant, you would get free water testing, and we would tell them our results. We were upfront with everyone about, you know, we don't have a bias, we're not anti-industry, we're not pro-industry. We're just to finally get some scientific data on this subject. And we had a pretty overwhelming response.