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Fracking & Air Contamination: New Evidence Points to Inefficiencies

by Elizabeth Alford on September 8, 2016

A new study released by the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) suggests that air contamination around fracking sites is more likely due to mechanical inefficiencies than the oil and gas extraction process itself.

Related: State Regulators Join Forces to Oppose Clean Air Act

UTA chemists gathered samples removed from fracking sites in the Eagle Ford during June and November of 2015. In all over 12,821 data points were collected. Researchers found highly variable levels of benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylene compounds (BTEX), but all within federally mandated acceptable limits for short-term exposure. The study goes on to suggest that these compounds are not inherent in the extraction process, but can be attributed to mechanical inefficiencies.

The findings should be encouraging news to anyone involved in the oil and gas industry and those concerned about the dangers of fracking.

“These results therefore suggest that air contamination events from fracking can be monitored, controlled and reduced. We hope that this research would help producers and other upstream operators improve the efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of unconventional drilling.”  -Kevin Schug, UTA Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry and director of the University’s Collaborative Laboratories for Environmental Analysis

Schug said that their future research will focus on the long-term effects of sporadic contamination on citizens living in impacted areas.

Since the shale boom exploded in 2008, controversy has surrounded the practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), with many concerned about the potential environmental and health dangers. In July, officials from several states gathered in Washington to testify before a senate subcommittee about their concerns over the Clean Air Act. The EPA estimates that new regulations might cost the industry somewhere between $420 – $530 million.

Read more at uta.edu

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