Characterizing Air Toxics from Oil Field Operations in Los Angeles

Monday, 15 December 2014
Michael C McCarthy1, Steven G Brown1, Jennifer L DeWinter1, Song Bai1, Theresa O'Brien1, David Vaughn1, Richard Peltier2, Jeffrey Soltis3, Robert Alexander Field3, Shane M Murphy3 and Paul T Roberts1, (1)Sonoma Technology, Inc., Petaluma, CA, United States, (2)University of Massachusetts, Environmental Health Sciences, Amherst, United States, (3)University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, United States
The Inglewood Oil Field in urban Los Angeles has been in operation for more than 70 years. Neighborhoods surrounding the oil field are concerned with the potential emissions of air toxics from oil field operations. The Baldwin Hills Air Quality Study focused on (1) quantifying air toxics concentrations originating from the Inglewood Oil Field operations, including drilling and well workovers, and (2) assessing the health risk of both acute and chronic exposure to air toxics emitted from oil field operations. Key pollutants identified for characterization included diesel particulate matter (DPM), cadmium, benzene, nickel, formaldehyde, mercury, manganese, acrolein, arsenic, and lead. The field study began in November 2012 and ended in November 2013. Four types of instruments were used to characterize oil field operations: (1) Aethalometers to measure black carbon (BC; as a proxy for DPM); (2) X-ray fluorescence spectrometer (XRF) for metals; (3) Proton-Transfer-Reaction Time-of‑Flight Mass Spectrometry (PTR-TOFMS) for volatile organic compounds; and (4) meteorological sensors to help assess the wind patterns, temperature, and humidity that influence pollutant concentrations. Overall concentrations of most of the species measured in the study were quite low for an urban area. We determined that there were statistically significant increases in concentrations of DPM associated with oil field operations when winds were from the west-southwest. BC concentrations increased by 0.036 to 0.056 μg/m3, on average, when winds originated from the west-southwest, compared to annual mean BC concentrations of approximately 0.67 μg/m3. West-southwest winds occurred 53% of the time during the study. No other pollutants showed strong statistical evidence of chronic or acute risk from oil field operations.