Evaluation and Application of a Solid Adsorbent Method for Monitoring Exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds from Oil and Gas Operations.

Monday, 15 December 2014
Katie Rose Smith1,2, Detlev Helmig2, Chelsea R Thompson2, Wei Wang2, Reed M Terrell2 and Alistair C Lewis1, (1)University of York, Chemistry, York, United Kingdom, (2)University of Colorado at Boulder, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, Boulder, CO, United States
Residential communities are being increasingly impacted by emissions from oil and gas development and this has driven the need for simple, effective, and low-cost methods for air quality monitoring. Primary emissions from oil and gas production consist of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) ranging from the short chain alkanes and alkenes to aromatic and semi-volatile species; many of these are a concern from both an air quality and public health viewpoint, as they can lead to local ozone pollution and increased risk of cancer or respiratory illness. The fate of hydrocarbons once in the atmosphere is ultimately oxidation through to CO2 and water, adding to the greenhouse gas burden. Measurement techniques that are capable of identifying and quantifying the full range of primary emissions of concern are required to assess community exposure to air toxics and to better inform residents, as well as local and state legislators. Here, we present evaluation of a low-cost air monitoring technique using stainless steel diffusion cartridges containing multiple solid adsorbents. Over the course of a three-month period in summer of 2014, cartridges were deployed at five monitoring sites located around Boulder County in the Northern Colorado Front Range, and exposed to ambient air for periods of up to four days along with concurrent sampling using stainless steel SUMMA canisters. Samples collected with both methods were subsequently analyzed for VOCs by GC-FID and the results were compared to determine the accuracy and precision of the diffusion cartridge method. Results of this evaluation show that the diffusion cartridge method has the potential to be a simple and low-cost solution for widespread exposure monitoring in communities near oil and gas development regions. Such measurements may also provide supporting evidence on wider effects on greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas development operations.