Pennsylvania DEP Study Confirms No Threat to Human Health from Marcellus Emissions
According to the results of an air quality study released by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on Monday, emissions from natural gas operations in the Marcellus shale region do not pose a threat to public health. The DEP?s study confirmed the results of a previous study performed in southwest Pennsylvania, which showed that drilling emissions do not constitute a human health risk.
The DEP?s study was conducted by the Bureau of Air Quality over a four-week period in 2010 near Marcellus shale operations in Susquehanna and Sullivan counties. Samples were taken at a completed and producing Marcellus well owned by Cabot in Dimock Township, Cabot?s compressor stations near Springville, Sones Pond in Sullivan County?s Loyalsock State Forest, and a Stone Energy well site that was being hydraulically fractured at the time of the sampling.
Sampling downwind from the sites at times during which the DEP receives the most complaints from residents, the DEP tested levels of volatile organic compounds, including benzene, toluene and xylene, which are typically found in petroleum or petroleum-based products. The DEP further sampled for carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide ? other constituents often associated with natural gas. The study showed ?no emission levels that would constitute a concern to the health of residents living near these operations,? according to Joyce Epps, DEP?s director of the Bureau of Air Quality.
Although the groups that pushed for these studies pointed out that the results were only a snapshot of air quality during the given time frame, they did not challenge the DEP?s results or conclusions, admitting that the agency?s methodology and sampling were sound for the purposes of the study.
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