Air Quality Impacts of Fracking
and Environmental Justice

Research Study #1: Modelling spatial & temporal variability of air pollution in an area of unconventional natural gas operations

  • Assessing exposure to hydraulic fracturing is hindered by sparse air quality monitors. 
  • This study developed land use regression models using air quality data and oil and gas production data. 
  • We then used the models to predict ambient air pollution concentrations in northeastern British Columbia. 
  • These concentrations will be used to assess health outcomes and environmental justice. 

Key Findings

  1. We were able to harness the available air quality data to build models capable of predicting at unmeasured locations using oil and gas activity data to explain the variations in concentration.
Map of study area within the Peace River Regional District in northeastern British Columbia
  1. The models were used to predict concentrations of 12 different gases and particles at the home location of health study participants and across the study area. 
Concentration surfaces for 12 air pollutants predicted by land use regression models for northeastern British Columbia
  1. The predicted air pollutant concentrations at cohort locations are comparable to concentrations measured by the air quality monitors. 
Comparison of predicted monthly concentrations of air pollutants at birth cohort locations versus air quality monitoring network observations in northeastern British Columbia between 2018 and 2020
  1. Minimal monitoring of pollutants with strong associations to fracking activities & several health impacts, such as BTEX compounds, highlights the need for additional monitoring of these species closer to areas of residence. 

Please refer to the Environmental Pollution paper “Modelling Spatial & temporal variability of air pollution in an area of unconventional natural gas operationsfor more details.