Estimation of regional air-quality damages from Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction in Pennsylvania
Environmental Research Letters
31 January 2013
Aviva Litovitz, Aimee Curtright, Shmuel Abramzon, Nicholas Burger and Constantine Samaras
This study gives an estimate of the conventional air pollutant emissions (VOC, NOx PM2.5, PM10 and SOx) from shale gas development in Pennsylvania and the monetary value of the associated environmental and health damages. Region-wide damages were estimated between $7.2 to $32 million dollars for 2011. While emissions and damage estimates are relatively small compared to other major sources of air pollution in the state overall, they are a concern in regions of significant extraction activities, which tend to be concentrated in a few counties. In counties with concentrated activity NOx emissions from the shale gas industry were 20-40 times higher than allowable for a single minor source. The authors also note that the industry and regulatory agencies need to account for air emissions from ongoing, long-term activities and not only those associated with development since more than 80% of damages occur in the years after the well is developed. For instance, compressor station activities alone account for 60-75% of all extraction-associated damages. It is important to consider county-level damage given site-specific variability such as the concentration of shale gas activities, population, and areas where air quality is already a concern. The authors conclude that shale gas extraction will be associated with non-trivial air pollution emissions and that more detailed analyses (e.g. regional data acquisition and consideration of site-specific variabilit
Human health risk assessment of air emissions from development of unconventional natural gas resources
Science of the Total Environment
21 Mar 2012 [Epub ahead of print]
Lisa M. McKenzie, Roxana Z. Witter, Lee S. Newman, John L. Adgate
This study estimated health risks for exposures to air emissions from a NGD project in Garfield County, Colorado with the objective of supporting risk prevention recommendations in a health impact assessment (HIA).
Hydrocarbon emissions characterization in the Colorado Front Range: A pilot study
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
21 Feb 2012
Gabrielle Pétron, Gregory Frost, Benjamin R. Miller, Adam I. Hirsch,
Stephen A. Montzka, Anna Karion, Michael Trainer, Colm Sweeney,
Arlyn E. Andrews, Lloyd Miller, Jonathan Kofler, Amnon Bar-Ilan,
Ed J. Dlugokencky, Laura Patrick, Charles T. Moore Jr., T
The multispecies analysis of daily air samples collected at the NOAA Boulder Atmospheric Observatory (BAO) in Weld County in northeastern Colorado since 2007 shows highly correlated alkane enhancements caused by a regionally distributed mix of sources in the Denver-Julesburg Basin. To further characterize the emissions of methane and non-methane hydrocarbons (propane, n-butane, i-pentane, n-pentane and benzene) around BAO, a pilot study involving automobile-based surveys was carried out during the summer of 2008.
An Exploratory Study of Air Quality near Natural Gas Operations
Human and Ecological Risk Assessment
20 Sep 2011
Theo Colborn, Kim Schultz, Lucille Herrick, and Carol Kwiatkowski
This study assessed air quality in western Colorado using weekly air samples taken before, during, and after drilling and hydraulic fracturing of a new natural gas well pad throughout the period of a year. The data showed numerous chemicals in the air associated with natural gas operations, most notably methane, ethane, propane, and other alkanes. Highest concentrations of non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHCs) were observed during the initial drilling phase. A literature search of the health effects of the NMHCs found that many had multiple health effects, including thirty that affected the endocrine system. The toxic solvent methylene chloride, which is not reported in drilling products, was detected 73% of the time, several times in high concentrations. The study concluded that the human and environmental impacts of NMHCs should be studied further given the close proximity of natural gas operations to the public.
Ozone Impacts of Natural Gas Development in the Haynesville Shale
Environmental Science & Technology
18 Nov 2010
Susan Kemball-Cook, Amnon Bar-Ilan, John Grant, Lynsey Parker, Jaegun Jung, Wilson Santamaria, Jim Mathews, and Greg Yarwood
Using well production data from state regulatory agencies and a review of the available literature, projections of future year Haynesville Shale natural gas production were derived for 2009−2020 for three scenarios corresponding to limited, moderate, and aggressive development. These production estimates were then used to develop an emission inventory for each of the three scenarios. Photochemical modeling of the year 2012 showed increases in 2012 8-h ozone design values of up to 5 ppb within Northeast Texas and Northwest Louisiana resulting from development in the Haynesville Shale. Ozone increases due to Haynesville Shale emissions can affect regions outside Northeast Texas and Northwest Louisiana due to ozone transport. This study evaluates only near-term ozone impacts, but the emission inventory projections indicate that Haynesville emissions may be expected to increase through 2020.
Rapid photochemical production of ozone at high concentrations in a rural site during winter
18 January 2009
Russell C. Schnell, Samuel J. Oltmans, Ryan R. Neely, Maggie S. Endres, John V. Molenar & Allen B. White
Ozone, an air pollutant that can cause severe respiratory health effects, is only considered to be produced at levels above health-based standards in urban areas in the summer. However, in the rural Upper Green River Basin of Wyoming near the Jonah-Pinedale Anticline natural gas field hourly average ozone concentrations rose from 10-30 ppb at night to more than 140 ppb soon after solar noon in temperatures as low as – 17º C. In these conditions, a strong, shallow temperature inversion develops in the lowest 100 m of the atmosphere, trapping high concentrations of ozone precursors at night. This study suggests that the exceptionally high photochemical ozone production observed in the UGRB in the winter is the result of NOx and VOC effluents released from natural gas activities in the area. Further, it concludes that while ozone measurements in regions where fossil fuel extraction occurs (in similar terrain and under similar meteorological conditions) are not made in the winter, similar low-temperature ozone formation is likely occurring.
Extensive regional atmospheric hydrocarbon pollution in the southwestern United States
Aaron S. Katzenstein, Lambert A. Doezema, Isobel J. Simpson, Donald R. Blake, and F. Sherwood Rowland
Light alkane hydrocarbons are present in major quantities in the near-surface atmosphere of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas during both autumn and spring seasons. In spring 2002, maximum mixing ratios of ethane [34 parts per 109 by volume (ppbv)], propane (20 ppbv), and n-butane (13 ppbv) were observed in north-central Texas. The elevated alkane mixing ratios are attributed to emissions from the oil and natural gas industry. Measured alkyl nitrate mixing ratios were comparable to urban smog values, indicating active photochemistry in the presence of nitrogen oxides, and therefore with abundant formation of tropospheric ozone. We estimate that 4–6 teragrams of methane are released annually within the region and represents a significant fraction of the estimated total U.S. emissions. This result suggests that total U.S. natural gas emissions may have been underestimated. Annual ethane emissions from the study region are estimated to be 0.3–0.5 teragrams.
The potential near-source ozone impacts of upstream oil and gas industry emissions
Journal of Air & Waste Management Association
Eduardo P. Olaguer
This study used the HARC neighborhood air quality model to simulate ozone formation near a hypothetical natural gas processing facility using estimates based on both regular and non-routine (e.g. flaring) emissions. The model predicts that under average conditions using regular emissions associated with compressor engines may increase ambient ozone in the Barnett Shale by more than 3 ppb beginning at about 2 km downwind of the facility. However, additional ozone from a hypothetical natural gas flare (volumes of 100,000 cubic meters per hour over two hours) can also add over 3 ppb to peak 1-hr ozone further downwind (>8km). The additional peak ozone from the flare can briefly exceed 10 ppb ~ 16 km downwind. The findings indicate that major metropolitan areas in or near shale gas development will be unlikely to achieve federal ozone standards in the future unless significant controls are placed on emissions.