Concentration of Volatile Organic Compounds in Urban Cities Compared to Urban Areas Experiencing Natural Gas Extraction and Processing




Shah, Ruchita P.
Shah, Mansi
Rich, Alisa


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Objective: The objective is to compare atmospheric concentrations of volatile organic compounds in urban areas of natural gas extraction as compared to areas without natural gas extraction. Introduction: Expansion of unconventional shale gas extraction and processing over the last decade has progressed significantly across the United States. Environmental concerns for what affect this energy expansion is having on air quality have been of great concern to many communities. Many of the VOCs present in natural gas and present in chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing are contributors to atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) levels and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). Exposure to GHGs and HAPs are known to be a major factor in respiratory illnesses in humans. In this research, atmospheric volatile organic compound concentrations were compared in areas experiencing natural gas extraction and processing with urban area VOC concentrations. Material and Methods:Relevant articles were identified by a systematic search of reliable databases. Due to lack of literature for comparison of VOCs, all the study designs were included. Having difference in measurement unit, all the readings in different studies were converted to one common unit and compounds were compared. Results: Methodology of ambient air monitoring varied considerably from locations. Among analysis of over 100 concentrations, only 7 compounds were collected in urban studies which include Acetone, Benzene, Chloroform, 1, 2 dichloroethane, Ethylbenzene, Tetrachloroethane and Styrene. Concentration of VOCs was found to be 70% higher in urban areas experiencing natural gas extraction. Conclusion: VOCs are found to be higher due to natural gas extraction process in urban areas. Greenhouse and HAPS are pervasive and responsible for adverse health and environmental effects. Our future studies are focused on consistent monitoring of HAPS and other chemicals.