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Dr. Zachariah Hildenbrand: Does fracking impact air quality?

January 2, 2017

Studies investigating the impact of fracking on air quality in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania found these operations were not contributing to increasing levels of pollutants such as benzine.

Does fracking impact air quality? In this edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Dr. Zachariah Hildenbrand joins research fellow Isaac Orr to discuss Dr. Hildenbrand's latest research examining the concentrations of toxins as fracturing sites in the Eagle Ford Shale of Texas.

Studies investigating the impact of fracking on air quality in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania found these operations were not contributing to increasing levels of pollutants such as benzine. This is likely due to the fact that the Marcellus is a natural gas basin. The Eagle Ford, on the other hand, is an oil basin, where substances such as benzine (which is also found in gasoline) are more likely to be found. Concentrations of all pollutants measured were less than the Occupational Health and Safety Administration limits set for an eight hour work day.

Dr. Hildenbrand found concentrations of these substances varied substantially from well to well, and these variations were the result of equipment malfunctions. This means that impacts on air quality are not inherent to oil and gas production, but the result of equipment which may need to be replaced. 

Author
Isaac Orr is a research fellow for energy and environment policy at The Heartland Institute. Orr is a speaker, researcher, and writer specializing in hydraulic fracturing, frac sand mining, agricultural, and environmental policy issues.
iorr@heartland.org