Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

UCI Study Uncovers Unexpectedly High Air Pollutant Levels In Southwest States

Date:
October 7, 2003
Source:
University Of California - Irvine
Summary:
UCI atmospheric scientists have found that greenhouse gases released from oil and natural gas exploration and processing in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas create regional air pollution levels similar to those found in large urban centers elsewhere in the United States.

Irvine, Calif. -- UCI atmospheric scientists have found that greenhouse gases released from oil and natural gas exploration and processing in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas create regional air pollution levels similar to those found in large urban centers elsewhere in the United States.

F. Sherwood Rowland, Donald R. Blake and colleagues sampled ground-level hydrocarbon gases through a 1,000 mile-wide swath of the central and southwest regions of the United States in late 2001 and early 2002. They recorded levels of various hydrocarbons -- including methane, ethane, propane and butane -- in and around Oklahoma City that equaled or surpassed those in such high-smog cities as Los Angeles, Houston, New York and Chicago.

These hydrocarbons participate in the formation of ground-level ozone, a major component in smog that contributes to lung ailments in children. Study results appear in the Online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science the week of Oct. 6, 2003. (www.pnas.org)

"Based on these findings, it appears that the U.S. is emitting four to six million tons more methane per year than previously estimated," said Rowland, a Nobel laureate in chemistry and one of the world's leading experts on global air pollution. "In fact, our study suggests that total hydrocarbon emissions are higher than stated in current estimates. This means the American air pollution problem has still another new, significant aspect."

In their study, Rowland and Blake recorded high pollution levels in Texas, Oklahoma and southwestern Kansas. These regional levels correlated with the locations of the oil and natural gas refineries concentrated in these areas. The UCI researchers then compared atmospheric hydrocarbon levels in Oklahoma City and a dozen other U.S. cities. They discovered that the air in and around the Oklahoma capital contained more than double the amounts of ethane, propane and butane than the air in more congested urban areas. They also found elevated amounts of methane -- a gas that in the past half century is regarded second only to carbon dioxide as a root cause of the greenhouse effect.

In addition, their samples revealed ample amounts of alkyl nitrates. These chemicals are byproducts of the atmospheric reactions involving hydrocarbons that lead to the formation of ozone, a major component of urban smog. The alkyl nitrates are reliable markers of ozone formation and were found at levels higher than in most urban environments.

"Our group found these higher hydrocarbon levels over the area incorporating the largest natural gas and oil reserves in the continental U.S.," Rowland said. "Similar studies of natural gas and oil regions in other countries would help better monitor global emission of greenhouse gases such as methane which contribute to air pollution and overall climate change."

In addition to this Oklahoma City study, Rowland and Blake have studied the air content in high-smog cities such as Mexico City; Karachi, Pakistan; Santiago, Chile; and other areas around the world to help local governments improve their air quality.

UCI chemists Aaron S. Katzenstein, Lambert A. Doezema and Isobel J. Simpson assisted Rowland and Blake on this study. It was funded by the National Institute for Global Environmental Change, a division of the U.S. Department of Energy.

The University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked public university dedicated to the principles of research, scholarship and community. Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 1,300 faculty members. The third-largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3 billion.

A complete archive of press releases is available on the World Wide Web at http://www.today.uci.edu.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California - Irvine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California - Irvine. "UCI Study Uncovers Unexpectedly High Air Pollutant Levels In Southwest States." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 October 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/10/031007054719.htm>.
University Of California - Irvine. (2003, October 7). UCI Study Uncovers Unexpectedly High Air Pollutant Levels In Southwest States. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/10/031007054719.htm
University Of California - Irvine. "UCI Study Uncovers Unexpectedly High Air Pollutant Levels In Southwest States." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/10/031007054719.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Phoenix Thunderstorm Creates Giant Wall of Dust

Phoenix Thunderstorm Creates Giant Wall of Dust

Reuters - US Online Video (July 26, 2014) A giant wall of dust slowly moves north over the Phoenix area after a summer monsoon thunderstorm. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rare Lemur Among Baby Animals Debuted at Cleveland Zoo

Rare Lemur Among Baby Animals Debuted at Cleveland Zoo

Reuters - US Online Video (July 26, 2014) A rare baby Lemur is among several baby animals getting their public debut at a Cleveland zoo. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins