PILOT: UK-CARES Rapid Response Mini-Grant: Addressing Community Concern about Natural Gas Compressor Stations in Rural Ohio

Grants and Contracts Details


In recent years, unconventional natural gas extraction, “hydraulic fracturing” or “fracking” has become a widely used novel technology to collect deep shale reserves of natural gas. The horizontal drilling process involves forcefully injecting an undisclosed concoction of chemicals into the earth at high speeds. Once extracted, the natural gas passes through compressor stations which increase pressure to provide the necessary energy to continuously transport the natural gas through the pipeline. Due to the rapid rise of this novel technology and the lack of transparency regarding the toxic components involved in the process, many questions surround the potential public health impacts [1, 2]. Contaminants may be released into the air at several steps throughout the processes involved in oil and natural gas activity. Previous studies have observed elevated concentrations of air pollutants such as benzene [3], volatile organic compounds (VOCs) [4], and methane [5] among other chemical mixtures [4] in areas located near oil and natural gas activity. Gas and oil activity is rapidly expanding across the US potentially putting many individuals’ health at risk. Specifically, Appalachian communities are often environmentally exploited which leads to the greater potential of contaminant exposures [6, 7]. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Jefferson County is one of the counties with the most oil and natural gas activity in the state of Ohio [8]. The majority of previous studies have utilized aggregate data, limiting the ability to characterize specific exposures stemming from the oil and natural gas activity. Several residents of Jefferson County contacted the PI to relate their serious concerns about air quality around their home and in their home. These residents live within a mile from an oil and gas compressor station. In response to this concern, and clear need, the PI has organized a field sampling campaign. Our study aims to fill this research gap by directly quantifying VOC exposures at individual households. This research will potentially incite a more complex study to understand exposures associated with residential proximity to compressor stations and health outcomes. The data will provide community members and policymakers scientific evidence for future decision making.
Effective start/end date8/26/203/31/21


  • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences


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