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Environ Sci Technol. 2013 Feb 5;47(3):1297-305. doi: 10.1021/es304119a. Epub 2013 Jan 25.

Source signature of volatile organic compounds from oil and natural gas operations in northeastern Colorado.

Author information

1
Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, United States. jessica.gilman@noaa.gov

Erratum in

  • Environ Sci Technol. 2013 Sep 3;47(17):10094.

Abstract

An extensive set of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) was measured at the Boulder Atmospheric Observatory (BAO) in winter 2011 in order to investigate the composition and influence of VOC emissions from oil and natural gas (O&NG) operations in northeastern Colorado. BAO is 30 km north of Denver and is in the southwestern section of Wattenberg Field, one of Colorado's most productive O&NG fields. We compare VOC concentrations at BAO to those of other U.S. cities and summertime measurements at two additional sites in northeastern Colorado, as well as the composition of raw natural gas from Wattenberg Field. These comparisons show that (i) the VOC source signature associated with O&NG operations can be clearly differentiated from urban sources dominated by vehicular exhaust, and (ii) VOCs emitted from O&NG operations are evident at all three measurement sites in northeastern Colorado. At BAO, the reactivity of VOCs with the hydroxyl radical (OH) was dominated by C(2)-C(6) alkanes due to their remarkably large abundances (e.g., mean propane = 27.2 ppbv). Through statistical regression analysis, we estimate that on average 55 ± 18% of the VOC-OH reactivity was attributable to emissions from O&NG operations indicating that these emissions are a significant source of ozone precursors.

PMID:
23316938
DOI:
10.1021/es304119a
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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