Survey of airborne organic compounds in residential communities near a natural gas compressor station: Response to community concern

Kaitlin A.Vollet Martin, Elizabeth Z. Lin, Timothy J. Hilbert, Krystal J.Godri Pollitt, Erin N. Haynes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Introduction: Natural gas compressor stations are located throughout the country and are used to maintain gas flow and ensure continuous distribution through the pipeline network. Compressor stations emit many air contaminants including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs). While the serious health effects associated with the inhalation of elevated pollutant levels are clear, the relationship between proximity to natural gas compressor stations and residential health effects is not well understood. Community members living near a natural gas compressor station in Eastern Ohio expressed concerns regarding their air quality; therefore, the objective of this study was to assess exposure to airborne organics in residential air near the compressor station. Methods: Our team conducted a 24-hour air sampling campaign to assess outdoor and indoor air contaminant levels at 4 homes near the Williams Salem Compressor Station in Jefferson County, Ohio. Air quality was assessed using two techniques: 1) summa canisters to quantify VOC concentrations and 2) passive air samplers to evaluate a broader panel of VOCs and SVOCs. Results: Among the three homes situated < 2 km from the compressor station, indoor benzene levels were 2-17 times greater than the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indoor standard due to vapor intrusion. Multiple other VOCs, including ethylbenzene, 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene, 1,2 dichloroethane, 1,3 butadiene, chloroform, and naphthalene also exceeded state standards for indoor concentrations. Several SVOCs were also detected inside and outside participants’ homes, including benzene and naphthalene derivatives. Conclusion: Our results validate the community members’ concerns and necessitate a more comprehensive epidemiological investigation into the exposures associated with natural gas compressor stations and methods to mitigate elevated exposures. Alarming levels of VOCS were detected inside of homes. Further research is needed to determine the source of VOC exposure and potential health effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100076
JournalEnvironmental Advances
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research was supported by the University of Kentucky Center for Appalachian Research in Environmental Sciences (UK-CARES) ( P30 ES026529 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Indoor air quality
  • Natural gas compressor stations
  • Passive samplers
  • Semi-volatile organic compounds
  • Volatile organic compounds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


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