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Marcellus Issues in West Virginia: An Introduction

Air Emissions

There are two elements to the air emissions issue. The EPA and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection have issued regulations or require reporting. The other element is few studies of air emissions that have been conducted and those have been outside of West Virginia.

The EPA regulatory actions can be found on this page. The 17 April 2012 rule and fact sheet. Updates and revised standards are on the regulatory actions page. The standards pertain to emissions during release of flowback from the well and from storage tanks on the site.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's reporting is as follows: flowback notification to the Division of Air Quality and a general permit (not finalized yet).

Environmentalists working in Garfield county, Colorado found high air concentrations of benzene and other hydrocarbons (Volatile Organic Compounds -- VOCs) near well sites. This brought about a number of air emissions studies.

In 2008 the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service) conducted a Health Impact Study for Garfield county. This presentation discusses "Public Health Implications of Ambient Air Exposures to Volatile Organic Compounds as Measured in Rural, Urban, and Oil & Gas Development Areas."

In 2008 Raj Goyal produced a public presentation, "Air Toxic Inhalation: Overview of Screening-Level Health Risk Assessment for Garfield County," that discusses health risk assessment and particular types of well emissions.

This recent article studied emissions from a site with multiple drilling and fracturing operations in Colorado. It offers an excellent and easy to understand overview of the variety of health consequences of particular types of emissions.

Human Health Risk Assessment of Air Emissions from Development of Unconventional Natural Gas Resources (2012) describes air monitoring in Garfield county and places this monitoring within the context of determining health consequences (chronic and acute) depending on distance from the well. The assessment shows that those living within 500 feet of a well that is having flowback venting into the air were at greater risk of suffering health consequences.


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