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Air Testing near shale gas production

There have been various types of air testing done around Marcellus Shale gas production activities. Testing is done through ambient air sampling as well as direct measurement and characterization of emissions from Marcellus Shale gas well sites, Centralized impoundment dams, Compressor stations, Gas processing facilities and trucking operations.
Some of the pollutants that appear in test results might include Particulate Matter, Ozone, Nitrogen Oxides, Sulfur Dioxide, Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Methane, Large hydrocarbons and Volatile organic compounds.

State studies on shale-site air emissions incomplete, according to court documents

By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
October 20, 2014

Three widely cited state studies of air emissions at Marcellus Shale gas development sites in Pennsylvania omit measurements of key air toxics and calculate the health risks of just two of more than two dozen pollutants. State regulators and the shale gas drilling industry over the past four years have repeatedly used the regional studies to support their positions that air emissions from drilling, fracking wastewater impoundments and compressor stations don’t pose a public health risk.

The revelations about the shortcomings of the state Department of Environmental Protection’s short-term air sampling reports are contained in sworn depositions by two DEP air program employees who worked on them. “The DEP’s willingness to allow Pennsylvania’s citizens to continue to rely upon what it knows to be an inaccurate air study is unacceptable and completely contrary to the department’s obligations to the public,” said John Smith. Not only did the DEP not calculate the vast majority of chemical hazards, but its determination that public health would not be harmed was not made by anyone with training in medicine, toxicology or environmental or occupational health.





Pennsylvania has made progress in reducing contributions to ground-level ozone concentrations. For the 37 counties designated as nonattainment for the previous (1997) 8-hour ozone NAAQS of 0.08 parts per million (ppm), EPA re-designated 25 counties to attainment after DEP demonstrated not only that the areas attain the standard but would be able to maintain that standard through 2018. Between 2007 and 2009, EPA redesignated the following counties as attainment for the 1997 ozone standard: Adams, Berks, Blair, Cambria, Carbon, Centre, Clearfield, Cumberland, Dauphin, Erie, Franklin, Greene, Indiana, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Mercer, Monroe, Northampton, Perry, Tioga, Wyoming, and York. While the seven county Pittsburgh area (Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland counties) has not been re-designated to attainment, air quality monitoring data from 2007-2009 indicates that the 1997 ozone standard has been attained.

In 2008, EPA lowered the 8-hour ozone standard to 0.075 (75 parts per billion). Most of the counties that previously met the 1997 standard did not meet this standard. Furthermore, the EPA agreed to reconsider the 8-hour ozone standard and in January 2010, proposed to lower the health-based standard and set a new secondary standard to protect the environment; the proposed standard ranged from 70 to 60 parts per billion.

EPA will issue final revised 8-hour ozone standards by July 29, 2011. The revised ozone NAAQS will pose significant attainment and maintenance challenges requiring additional reductions of NOx and VOC emissions across Pennsylvania. The use of natural gas, particularly as an alternative transportation fuel, contains significant advantages to achieving and maintain federal ozone NAAQS.


EPA has found that the following counties met the 1997 annual (PM2.5) standard of 15ug/m3 for fine particulate matter based on 2007-2009 data: Berks, Cambria, Cumberland, Dauphin, Indiana, Lebanon, Lancaster, and York. State Implementation Plan (SIP) revisions projecting attainment in 2010 have been submitted to EPA for the remaining areas: the Pittsburgh-Beaver Valley area (Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington, Westmoreland and portions of Indiana, Cambria, Lawrence and Greene counties) and the Philadelphia area (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties). The Liberty/Clairton SIP revision submitted to EPA will be revised to project attainment by December 2013.

In 2006, EPA established a more stringent 24-hour particulate standard and in December 2009 designated the following counties or portions thereof as nonattainment. Allegheny (and the Liberty/Clairton area separately), Armstrong, Beaver, Bucks, Butler, Cambria, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lebanon, Lancaster, Lawrence Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Washington, Westmoreland, and York. SIP revisions are due to EPA in December 2012.

In order to achieve and maintain the PM 2.5 NAAQS across Pennsylvania, additional reductions of fine particulates and precursors of PM 2.5 including NOx and SO2 may be needed.

Governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania



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