Air Quality Study in Eastern Ohio
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine and Oregon State University (OSU) received funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to study air quality before, during, and after unconventional natural gas drilling (UNGD), or fracking, activity.
The purpose of this study is to find out if the air quality in a community changes during UNGD activities. The research is being conducted in Carroll County, and neighboring counties, in Ohio.
Ohio currently has a total of 980 drilled wells throughout the state (updated 7/11/14).
What is being tested?
Chemicals that may be in the air, specifically PAHs or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. PAHs are a group of chemicals that are naturally found in the environment, but they can also be man-made. They are created when products like coal, oil, gas, and garbage are burned, but the burning process is not complete. Click here for a full list of the PAHs analyzed in this study.
How is it being tested?
We use 2 different kinds of samplers: passive air samplers and personal passive samplers.
The passive air samplers take samples from the air. They are passive, meaning that they absorb chemicals in the air and require no motor or maintenance for them to operate. The sampling material used to collect the chemicals in the air is placed inside a metal box to protect it from weather conditions and animals.
The passive air samplers can collect thousands of different chemicals, including semi-volatile organic compounds which can impact human health.
During the first phase of the study (Feb. 2014), 25 samplers were placed on study participant properties. Some properties had wells that were producing natural gas, while others were used as background sites. After three weeks, trained participants returned the sampling material to OSU for analysis. In June 2014, the results from Phase I were sent to participating properties.
The personal passive samplers come in the form of a wristband. These wristbands are used to measure chemicals from a person's environment. The wristbands can absorb chemicals from the air, which researchers can then take out and identify. The wristbands are also included in another form of personal passive sampling, a Mobile Exposure Device (MED). This device includes a spirometer (tests lung function) and a smart phone to track location.
During phase two of this study (May 2014), wristbands were given to 23 individuals living near five sites where more environmental samplers were placed and were trained on how to mail them back to OSU for analysis. There were two individuals who used the MED for this study phase.
Click here to read more about how the personal passive samplers work.
Learn more about the study phases, details, and design on Oregon State University's webpage.
Click here to read an article by The Times Reporter during the research team’s first sampling visit to Carroll County.
Watch these short videos to learn how the air samplers work.
Community Impact Assessment Project