Influence of oil and gas emissions on ambient atmospheric non-methane hydrocarbons in residential areas of Northeastern Colorado Journal Article uri icon

Overview

abstract

  • Abstract; The Northern Front Range (NFR) region of Colorado has experienced rapid expansion of oil and gas extraction from shale and tight sands reservoirs in recent years due to advances in hydraulic fracturing technology, with over 25,000 wells currently in operation. This region has also been designated as a federal ozone non-attainment area by the U.S. EPA. High ozone levels are a significant health concern, as are potential health impacts from chronic exposure to primary emissions of non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC) for residents living near wells. From measurements of ambient atmospheric NMHC present in residential areas located in close proximity to wells in Erie, Colorado, we find that mean mole fractions of the C2–C5 alkanes are enhanced by a factor of 18–77 relative to the regional background, and present at higher levels than typically found in large urban centers. When combined with NMHC observations from downtown Denver and Platteville, it is apparent that these compounds are elevated across the NFR, with highest levels within the Greater Wattenberg Gas Field. This represents a large area source for ozone precursors in the NFR. The BTEX aromatic compounds in Erie were comparable to (e.g., benzene) or lower than (e.g., toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene) in large urban centers, however, benzene was significantly higher in Platteville, and within the range of chronic health-based exposure levels. An initial look at comparisons with data sets from previous years reveal that ambient levels for oil and gas-related NMHC in Erie, as well as further downwind in Boulder, have not decreased, but appear to have been increasing, despite tightening of emissions standards for the oil and gas industries in 2008.

publication date

  • January 1, 2014

Date in CU Experts

  • May 11, 2015 2:56 AM

Full Author List

  • Thompson CR; Hueber J; Helmig D

author count

  • 3

Other Profiles

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2325-1026

Additional Document Info

volume

  • 3