8Air Quality Resources and Mitigation Measures

8.1 Introduction

Two of the most important air quality issues associated with hydraulic fracturing and unconventional resource extraction relate to (i) fugitive gas emissions and (ii) worker exposure to silica dust on the drilling pad. Other issues on the drill pad include releases and on site exposures to diesel particulate; volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as naphthalene, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene (NBTEX); hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S); acid gases (HCl); volatile aldehydes in biocides; and lead (Pb) dust. In addition to the exposure hazards related to workers, unconventional resource extraction operations handle, store, and transport large volumes of volatile hazardous fluids. Although not common, oil spills and gas leaks can occur where petroleum hydrocarbons, chemical additives, or coproduced waste products are accidently released into the environment. When releases occur, liquids or gases can be released to and migrate through the shallow groundwater and vadose zone soils to air. A range of impacts in a spill area range from nuisance odors to the more serious methane or benzene vapor intrusion into indoor spaces in homes and businesses. Once the unconventional natural gas resource leaves the production site, the air quality and vapor intrusion issues are like the conventional resource environmental challenges. A summary of air quality issues for each phase of the exploration–production life cycle (Table ...

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