November 24, 2013
A review of air quality in the Barnett Shale using data from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) finds that emissions related to natural gas production are below levels that would pose health concerns according to a 28 September 2013 report from the Fort Worth Star Telegram.
The study, by Houston-based ToxStrategies, was funded by the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council, an industry group. It was published in the journal Science of the Total Environment. The study looked at 4.6 million measurements of targeted chemical compounds captured by seven monitors at six sites in the area from 2000 to 2011.
Those monitors, part of a TCEQ network, either automatically sample the air once an hour daily or collect one air sample for 24 hours every sixth day. Most of the time, the monitors detected six volatile organic compounds that are particularly related to natural gas production: benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, hexane and two forms of xylene, all of which are toxic. Benzene is a known carcinogen.
While those and other compounds were present, none were detected in concentrations high enough to be considered a short-term acute health threat, the study said. One other compound, 1,2-dibromoethane, was detected at an annual level considered to pose a long-term chronic health risk.
What this means to you
While funded by an industry group, this study does indicate that emissions from natural gas production are below levels that pose a health concern. Still, environmental groups claim real people living near these compressor stations or well sites are suffering health effects.