'Fracking has been found to negatively affect air quality in the United States.
Air pollution in the urban areas has been decreasing gradually since the 1970s. However, with the fracking boom happening around 10 years ago, the U.S. has now found itself a new source of hydrocarbons, which enter the atmosphere via compressors, pipes, separators, valves, or through exhaust vents on tanks.
This means that in recent years, there has been a flood of research to ascertain the amount of emissions from fracked oil and gas wells. There has been much talk on how methane emissions, a greenhouse gas, has been polluting the environment, but very little attention is given to air toxins.
Fracking, which is short for hydraulic fracturing, is a drilling process that induces the flow of natural gas or oil by producing fractures in rock formations which were once not lucrative to tap. This happens when drillers shatter layers of shale rock with chemicals, high-pressure water, and sand.
The hydraulic fracturing process, not counting its demand for huge amounts of water, has been dubbed as the least environmentally impactful step when it came to drilling for hydrocarbons. The processes which have more environmental effects are wastewater handling and disposal, as well as the release of vapors from oil and gas storage and distribution.
Producing, distributing, and using hydrocarbons have always at some point resulted to emissions accumulating in the air, either due to accidental or intended leaks, or during incomplete combustion of fuels. Fortunately, hydrocarbons have been significantly decreased in the last 30 years, approximately by a factor of 10.'
Read more: Fracking found to worsen air pollution, increasing respiratory disease
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14 July 2019
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