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Annu Rev Chem Biomol Eng. 2014;5:55-75. doi: 10.1146/annurev-chembioeng-060713-035938. Epub 2014 Feb 5.

Atmospheric emissions and air quality impacts from natural gas production and use.

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McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712; email:


The US Energy Information Administration projects that hydraulic fracturing of shale formations will become a dominant source of domestic natural gas supply over the next several decades, transforming the energy landscape in the United States. However, the environmental impacts associated with fracking for shale gas have made it controversial. This review examines emissions and impacts of air pollutants associated with shale gas production and use. Emissions and impacts of greenhouse gases, photochemically active air pollutants, and toxic air pollutants are described. In addition to the direct atmospheric impacts of expanded natural gas production, indirect effects are also described. Widespread availability of shale gas can drive down natural gas prices, which, in turn, can impact the use patterns for natural gas. Natural gas production and use in electricity generation are used as a case study for examining these indirect consequences of expanded natural gas availability.


air toxics; criteria air pollutants; electricity generation; greenhouse gases; hydraulic fracturing

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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