Predictive, Source-oriented Modeling and Measurements to Evaluate Community Exposures to Air Pollutants and Noise from Unconventional Oil and Gas Development

Principal Investigator:
Lea Hildebrandt Ruiz
Associate Professor
University of Texas at Austin
Principal Investigator:
David Allen
Professor
University of Texas at Austin
Principal Investigator:
Lucas Henneman
Assistant Professor
George Mason University
Principal Investigator:
Elizabeth Matsui
Associate Chair for Research and Professor
University of Texas at Austin
Principal Investigator:
Pawel Misztal
Assistant Professor
University of Texas at Austin
Principal Investigator:
Roger Peng
Professor
Johns Hopkins University

The goal of this study is to develop a broadly applicable model, the "TRAcking Community Exposures and Releases" (TRACER) model. The model will assess potential community exposures to chemicals in the air from UOGD and inform future health studies. The model will then be used to predict the magnitude and frequency of emissions from individual UOGD sources, and when coupled with dispersion modeling, will generate concentrations of chemicals in the air. The investigators will apply the following methods to achieve their goals:

  1. Collect stationary and mobile air quality and noise measurements in the Eagle Ford, Texas region.
  2. In collaboration with the Collett team, develop the TRACER model in the Eagle Ford region to generate chemical emissions data from specific UOGD processes. The teams will combine the predicted emissions with air quality models to estimate local and regional concentrations of chemicals in the air.
  3. Expansion of the TRACER model to the Marcellus region, leveraging data from the separately funded Appalachian Methane Initiative. 
  4. Evaluate model performance by comparing air quality monitoring data with model predictions in the Eagle Ford region.
  5. Use TRACER model results to assess spatial and temporal variability of potential community exposures to UOGD-associated chemicals and evaluate the effects of different UOGD sources on potential community exposures.

Hildebrandt Ruiz Study Location

Hildebrandt Ruiz Study Location

 

Video
Lea Hildebrandt Ruiz
Lea Hildebrandt Ruiz

Research Team

Lea Hildebrandt Ruiz
Associate Professor
University of Texas at Austin
David Allen
Professor
University of Texas at Austin
Lucas Henneman
Assistant Professor
George Mason University
Elizabeth Matsui
Associate Chair for Research and Professor
University of Texas at Austin
Pawel Misztal
Assistant Professor
University of Texas at Austin
Roger Peng
Professor
Johns Hopkins University

Project Updates

Hildebrandt Ruiz Quarterly Update - December 2023

Predictive, Source-oriented Modeling and Measurements to Evaluate Community Exposures to Air Pollutants and Noise from Unconventional Oil and Gas Development

Lea Hildebrandt Ruiz

The goal of this study is to develop a broadly applicable model, the "TRAcking Community Exposures and Releases" (TRACER) model. The model will assess potential community exposures to chemicals in the air from UOGD and inform future health studies. The model will then be used to predict the magnitude and frequency of emissions from individual UOGD sources, and when coupled with dispersion modeling, will generate concentrations of chemicals in the air. The investigators will apply the following methods to achieve their goals:

  1. Collect stationary and mobile air quality and noise measurements in the Eagle Ford, Texas region.
  2. In collaboration with the Collett team, develop the TRACER model in the Eagle Ford region to generate chemical emissions data from specific UOGD processes. The teams will combine the predicted emissions with air quality models to estimate local and regional concentrations of chemicals in the air.
  3. Expansion of the TRACER model to the Marcellus region, leveraging data from the separately funded Appalachian Methane Initiative. 
  4. Evaluate model performance by comparing air quality monitoring data with model predictions in the Eagle Ford region.
  5. Use TRACER model results to assess spatial and temporal variability of potential community exposures to UOGD-associated chemicals and evaluate the effects of different UOGD sources on potential community exposures.

What's Happened

  • Conducted the second intensive sampling campaign from Oct. 17-Nov. 16, 2023, in Karnes City, TX. Mobile sampling focused on emissions from dry gas production, a petrochemical waste facility, and flaring.
  • Held a public open house in Karnes City on Nov. 9, 2023.
  • Presented the study at the Energy Emissions Modeling and Data Lab’s (EEMDL) first annual meeting and at the Fall 2023 meeting of the American Geophysical Union. 
  • Finalized five locations for initial modeling and exposure assessment in Karnes City: the elementary school, junior high school, and high school; the correction center; and a hospital. 

What's New

  • Continuing to analyze monitoring data collected this year. 
  • Presenting our preliminary results at conferences. 
  • Identifying the exact locations of oil and gas sources within 20 km of the stationary monitoring site and gathering their activity data for calculating emissions.  
  • Collaborating with our exposure team to evaluate existing exposure assessment methods and develop alternative approaches.

What's Next

  • Continue to analyze data and share preliminary results. 
  • Continue to gather activity data for oil operations in the Eagle Ford Shale. 
  • Begin emissions and dispersion modeling.

Upcoming Events:

Figure 1. Photo of the research team demonstrating the mobile instrumentation to community members during the team’s public open house on Nov. 9, 2023, at the Columbus Club in Karnes City, Texas.
Hildebrandt Ruiz Quarterly Update - September 2023

Predictive, Source-oriented Modeling and Measurements to Evaluate Community Exposures to Air Pollutants and Noise from Unconventional Oil and Gas Development

Lea Hildebrandt Ruiz

The goal of this study is to develop a broadly applicable model, the "TRAcking Community Exposures and Releases" (TRACER) model. The model will assess potential community exposures to chemicals in the air from UOGD and inform future health studies. The model will then be used to predict the magnitude and frequency of emissions from individual UOGD sources, and when coupled with dispersion modeling, will generate concentrations of chemicals in the air. The investigators will apply the following methods to achieve their goals:

  1. Collect stationary and mobile air quality and noise measurements in the Eagle Ford, Texas region.
  2. In collaboration with the Collett team, develop the TRACER model in the Eagle Ford region to generate chemical emissions data from specific UOGD processes. The teams will combine the predicted emissions with air quality models to estimate local and regional concentrations of chemicals in the air.
  3. Expansion of the TRACER model to the Marcellus region, leveraging data from the separately funded Appalachian Methane Initiative. 
  4. Evaluate model performance by comparing air quality monitoring data with model predictions in the Eagle Ford region.
  5. Use TRACER model results to assess spatial and temporal variability of potential community exposures to UOGD-associated chemicals and evaluate the effects of different UOGD sources on potential community exposures.

What's Happened

  • Analyzed data collected during the first intensive measurement campaign in Spring 2023. Figure 1 shows several air emissions measured during two days of mobile sampling in the Karnes City region in Texas. 

What's New

  • Preparing for the next intensive measurement campaign in the Eagle Ford region. 
  • Setting up several different dispersion and exposure models. 
  • Continuing analysis of data collected from the first intensive measurement campaign in Spring 2023.

What's Next

  • Take additional measurements in the Eagle Ford Shale in October and November 2023. 
  • Analyzing and completing quality assurance review of the data from both measurement campaigns, use the data to evaluate the performance of the TRACER model. 

Upcoming Events:

  • The team will discuss their work during several presentations at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, December 11-15 in San Francisco. 
  • Community Open House in Karnes City, TX on November 7, 2023 (Time TBD). 
    Figure 1: A map depicting several air emissions of organic compounds detected in the time period of March 23rd to the 28th, 2023 through mobile monitoring efforts in the Karnes City region in Texas.
Hildebrandt-Ruiz Quarterly Update - June 2023

Predictive, Source-oriented Modeling and Measurements to Evaluate Community Exposures to Air Pollutants and Noise from Unconventional Oil and Gas Development

Lea Hildebrandt Ruiz

The goal of this study is to develop a broadly applicable model, the "TRAcking Community Exposures and Releases" (TRACER) model. The model will assess potential community exposures to chemicals in the air from UOGD and inform future health studies. The model will then be used to predict the magnitude and frequency of emissions from individual UOGD sources, and when coupled with dispersion modeling, will generate concentrations of chemicals in the air. The investigators will apply the following methods to achieve their goals:

  1. Collect stationary and mobile air quality and noise measurements in the Eagle Ford, Texas region.
  2. In collaboration with the Collett team, develop the TRACER model in the Eagle Ford region to generate chemical emissions data from specific UOGD processes. The teams will combine the predicted emissions with air quality models to estimate local and regional concentrations of chemicals in the air.
  3. Expansion of the TRACER model to the Marcellus region, leveraging data from the separately funded Appalachian Methane Initiative. 
  4. Evaluate model performance by comparing air quality monitoring data with model predictions in the Eagle Ford region.
  5. Use TRACER model results to assess spatial and temporal variability of potential community exposures to UOGD-associated chemicals and evaluate the effects of different UOGD sources on potential community exposures.

What's Happened

  • Conducted stationary and mobile measurements in Karnes City, TX, from March to May 2023, focusing on measurement of plumes from active flares (Figure X). 
  • Drafted a manuscript summarizing modeling work to assess how nitrogen oxide emissions from unconventional oil and gas in different locations over time affected regional ozone formation. 
  • Dr. Hildebrandt Ruiz gave a poster presentation on the research at the 2023 HEI Annual Conference in Boston. 

What's New

  • Focusing on analysis of the dataset that the team collected in and near Karnes City. 
  • Continuing modeling activities. 
  • Planning a Community Open House in Karnes City.

What's Next

  • Submit the manuscript about variability in emissions of nitrogen oxides. 
  • Continue modeling activities. 
  • Plan for the next measurement campaign.

Upcoming Events:

  • Community Open House in Karnes City (Summer 2023; date and location to be determined).
An example of preliminary air quality data detected near a flare close to Karnes City, TX using the team’s mobile laboratory
An example of preliminary air quality data detected near a flare close to Karnes City, TX using the team’s mobile laboratory.
Hildebrandt-Ruiz Quarterly Update - March 2023

Predictive, Source-oriented Modeling and Measurements to Evaluate Community Exposures to Air Pollutants and Noise from Unconventional Oil and Gas Development

Lea Hildebrandt Ruiz

The goal of this study is to develop a broadly applicable model, the "TRAcking Community Exposures and Releases" (TRACER) model. The model will assess potential community exposures to chemicals in the air from UOGD and inform future health studies. The model will then be used to predict the magnitude and frequency of emissions from individual UOGD sources, and when coupled with dispersion modeling, will generate concentrations of chemicals in the air. The investigators will apply the following methods to achieve their goals:

  1. Collect stationary and mobile air quality and noise measurements in the Eagle Ford, Texas region.
  2. In collaboration with the Collett team, develop the TRACER model in the Eagle Ford region to generate chemical emissions data from specific UOGD processes. The teams will combine the predicted emissions with air quality models to estimate local and regional concentrations of chemicals in the air.
  3. Expansion of the TRACER model to the Marcellus region, leveraging data from the separately funded Appalachian Methane Initiative. 
  4. Evaluate model performance by comparing air quality monitoring data with model predictions in the Eagle Ford region.
  5. Use TRACER model results to assess spatial and temporal variability of potential community exposures to UOGD-associated chemicals and evaluate the effects of different UOGD sources on potential community exposures.

What's Happened

  • Continued preparation for monitoring air quality and noise near Karnes City, TX, by setting up instrumentation and identifying mobile monitoring routes. For example, Figure 1 shows a monitoring route that allows us to sample near three active flares and a gas processing plant.
  • Continued modeling the effect of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions on regional ozone concentrations and examined the type and duration of UOGD processes contributing the most to NOx emissions. 
     

What's New

  • Completing final preparations for monitoring air quality and noise near Karnes City, TX. 
  • Planning stakeholder engagement activities in and near Karnes City, TX. 
  • Summarizing our NOx modeling results. 
  • Working on county-level and annual emissions estimations of additional chemicals.

What's Next

  • Monitor air quality and noise in and near Karnes City, TX. Monitoring is scheduled for mid-March to mid-May 2023. The measurements will include stationary measurements in Karnes City as well as mobile measurements near Karnes City. 
  • Continue modeling activities.

Upcoming Events:

  • Community Open House in Karnes City, TX (Spring 2023; date to be determined).
  • Poster presentation at the HEI Annual Conference, Boston, MA (April 30-May 2).
Figure 1: An air quality monitoring route near Karnes City, TX, that allows us to sample near three active flares and a gas processing plant.
Figure 1: An air quality monitoring route near Karnes City, TX, that allows us to sample near three active flares and a gas processing plant.
Hildebrandt Ruiz Quarterly Update - December 2022

Predictive, Source-oriented Modeling and Measurements to Evaluate Community Exposures to Air Pollutants and Noise from Unconventional Oil and Gas Development

Lea Hildebrandt Ruiz

The goal of this study is to develop a broadly applicable model, the "TRAcking Community Exposures and Releases" (TRACER) model. The model will assess potential community exposures to chemicals in the air from UOGD and inform future health studies. The model will then be used to predict the magnitude and frequency of emissions from individual UOGD sources, and when coupled with dispersion modeling, will generate concentrations of chemicals in the air. The investigators will apply the following methods to achieve their goals:

  1. Collect stationary and mobile air quality and noise measurements in the Eagle Ford, Texas region.
  2. In collaboration with the Collett team, develop the TRACER model in the Eagle Ford region to generate chemical emissions data from specific UOGD processes. The teams will combine the predicted emissions with air quality models to estimate local and regional concentrations of chemicals in the air.
  3. Expansion of the TRACER model to the Marcellus region, leveraging data from the separately funded Appalachian Methane Initiative. 
  4. Evaluate model performance by comparing air quality monitoring data with model predictions in the Eagle Ford region.
  5. Use TRACER model results to assess spatial and temporal variability of potential community exposures to UOGD-associated chemicals and evaluate the effects of different UOGD sources on potential community exposures.

What's Happened

  • Set up and tested an all-electric mobile monitoring vehicle outfitted with instruments that measure air quality and noise.
  • Began to evaluate the effects of UOGD on regional levels of ozone in the air and on the emissions of nitrogen oxides.
All electric mobile monitoring vehicle outfitted with instruments that measure air quality and noise.
All electric mobile monitoring vehicle outfitted with instruments that measure air quality and noise.

What's New

  • Wrapping up preparations for air quality and noise monitoring in Karnes County, beginning in Spring 2023. The monitoring is designed to capture emissions associated with UOGD, including flaring of natural gas.
  • Continuing to develop the TRACER model, which will predict local and regional concentrations of chemicals in air associated with UOGD. Initially, we are estimating chemical emissions annually at the county level.

What's Next

  • Organize and host community meetings before air quality and noise monitoring begins.
  • Begin monitoring near Karnes City in Spring 2023.
  • Using the TRACER model, evaluate the influence of EPA's proposed methane rule on the emissions of other chemicals from UOGD.

Upcoming Events:

Dr. Bhattacharyya, a research team member, will present a paper titled "High Chlorine Emissions from Unconventional Oil and Gas Development Impact Atmospheric Composition through Radical Chemistry" at the December 2022 American Geophysical Union Meeting.
 

Hildebrandt Ruiz Quarterly Update - September 2022

Predictive, Source-oriented Modeling and Measurements to Evaluate Community Exposures to Air Pollutants and Noise from Unconventional Oil and Gas Development

Lea Hildebrandt Ruiz

The goal of this study is to develop a broadly applicable model, the "TRAcking Community Exposures and Releases" (TRACER) model. The model will assess potential community exposures to chemicals in the air from UOGD and inform future health studies. The model will then be used to predict the magnitude and frequency of emissions from individual UOGD sources, and when coupled with dispersion modeling, will generate concentrations of chemicals in the air. The investigators will apply the following methods to achieve their goals:

  1. Collect stationary and mobile air quality and noise measurements in the Eagle Ford, Texas region.
  2. In collaboration with the Collett team, develop the TRACER model in the Eagle Ford region to generate chemical emissions data from specific UOGD processes. The teams will combine the predicted emissions with air quality models to estimate local and regional concentrations of chemicals in the air.
  3. Expansion of the TRACER model to the Marcellus region, leveraging data from the separately funded Appalachian Methane Initiative. 
  4. Evaluate model performance by comparing air quality monitoring data with model predictions in the Eagle Ford region.
  5. Use TRACER model results to assess spatial and temporal variability of potential community exposures to UOGD-associated chemicals and evaluate the effects of different UOGD sources on potential community exposures.

What's Happened

• Purchased and received equipment to monitor air quality and noise.
• Started to develop the TRACER model to predict emissions of chemicals of potential concern for health.

The mobile monitoring platform for mobile measurements in the Eagle Ford Shale.
The mobile monitoring platform for mobile measurements in the Eagle Ford Shale.

What's New

  • Identifying air and noise monitoring locations based on the presence of emissions sources, wind direction and accessibility in Karnes City, Texas.
  • Setting up monitoring platforms and testing equipment.
     

What's Next

  • Begin mobile air monitoring in October 2022 in Austin, Texas, to 'test drive' the equipment for future monitoring in the Eagle Ford Shale.
  • Use the TRACER model to evaluate the effect of proposed Environmental Protection Agency rules, aimed at reducing methane emissions, on volatile organic compound emissions from UOGD.
  • Develop techniques to include emissions from flares in the TRACER model.