Title: Use of Tracer Elements for Estimating Community Exposure to Marcellus Shale Development Operations.
Authors: Nye, Maya; Knuckles, Travis; Yan, Beizhan; Ross, James; Orem, William; Varonka, Matthew; Thurston, George; Dzomba, Alexandria; McCawley, Michael
Published In Int J Environ Res Public Health, (2020 03 12)
Abstract: Since 2009, unconventional natural gas development (UNGD) has significantly increased in Appalachia's Marcellus Shale formation. Elevations of fine particulate matter <2.5 µm (PM2.5), have been documented in areas surrounding drilling operations during well stimulation. Furthermore, many communities are experiencing increased industrial activities and probable UNGD air pollutant exposures. Recent studies have associated UNGD emissions with health effects based on distances from well pads. In this study, PM2.5 filter samples were collected on an active gas well pad in Morgantown, West Virginia, and three locations downwind during hydraulic stimulation. Fine particulate samples were analyzed for major and trace elements. An experimental source identification model was developed to determine which elements appeared to be traceable downwind of the UNGD site and whether these elements corresponded to PM2.5 measurements. Results suggest that 1) magnesium may be useful for detecting the reach of UNGD point source emissions, 2) complex surface topographic and meteorological conditions in the Marcellus Shale region could be modeled and confounding sources discounted, and 3) well pad emissions may be measurable at distances of at least 7 km. If shown to be more widely applicable, future tracer studies could enhance epidemiological studies showing health effects of UNGD-associated emissions at ≥15 km.
PubMed ID: 32178331
MeSH Terms: Air Pollutants*/analysis; Environmental Exposure*; Environmental Monitoring*; Models, Theoretical; Natural Gas*; Particulate Matter