Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Reported oil sands emissions greatly underestimated, report shows

Date:
February 3, 2014
Source:
University of Toronto
Summary:
A new comprehensive modeling assessment of contamination in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region indicates that officially reported emissions of certain highly hazardous air pollutants have been greatly underestimated.

A new comprehensive modeling assessment of contamination in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region indicates that officially reported emissions of certain highly hazardous air pollutants have been greatly underestimated.

The results of the assessment, which were carried out by University of Toronto Scarborough Environmental Chemistry professor Frank Wania and his PhD candidate Abha Parajulee will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science Monday, February 3 2014. The study constitutes the most comprehensive such model that has been done for the Oil Sands Region.

The team modeled emissions of a group of atmospheric pollutants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Many PAHs are highly carcinogenic. Children born from women who were exposed to PAHs while pregnant may have lower IQs, a higher risk of asthma and other issues.

“When dealing with chemicals that have such great potential to harm people and animals, it is absolutely vital that we truly understand how, and how much they are being released into the environment,” said Parajulee, the lead author of the paper.

PAHs are produced during the process of extracting petroleum from the oil sands. Previous models have assessed only the PAHs that are released directly into the atmosphere during extraction. These numbers tend to fall within acceptable regulatory levels.

Parajulee’s model takes into account other indirect pathways for the release of PAHs that haven’t been assessed before. For instance, he found that evaporation from tailing ponds – lakes of polluted water also created through oil extraction – may actually introduce more PAHs into the atmosphere than direct emissions.

“Tailing ponds are not the end of the journey for the pollutants they contain. PAHs are highly volatile, meaning they escape into the air much more than many people think,” says Parajulee. The higher levels of PAHs the UTSC scientists’ model predicts are consistent with what have actually been measured in samples taken from areas near and in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region.

Parajulee and Wania’s model also factors in additional PAHs that are released during the transport and storage of other waste materials from oil sands operations.

The pair of researchers modeled only three types of PAHs, which they believe are representative of many other types of air pollutant. Still, they say, their model indicates better monitoring data and emissions information could improve our understanding of the environmental impact of the oil sands even further.

“We need to take a holistic approach that includes both modeling and monitoring,” says Wania. “This is the single most powerful way to inform public policy and private management strategies for the region.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Toronto. The original article was written by Patchen Barss. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Parajulee, F. Wania. Evaluating officially reported polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon emissions in the Athabasca oil sands region with a multimedia fate model. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2014; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1319780111

Cite This Page:

University of Toronto. "Reported oil sands emissions greatly underestimated, report shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140203154934.htm>.
University of Toronto. (2014, February 3). Reported oil sands emissions greatly underestimated, report shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140203154934.htm
University of Toronto. "Reported oil sands emissions greatly underestimated, report shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140203154934.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) — The UN mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) led a mine clearance demonstration on Wednesday in the UN-controlled buffer zone where demining operations are being conducted near the Cypriot village of Mammari. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) — For months California has suffered from a historic drought. The lack of water is worrying for farmers and ranchers, but for gold diggers it’s a stroke of good fortune. With water levels low, normally inaccessible areas are exposed. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — With only three weeks until Minnesota's fishing opener, many are wondering if the ice will be gone. Some of the Northland lakes are still covered by up to three feet of ice, causing concern that just like last year, the lakes won't be ready. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niρo Event This Year

Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niρo Event This Year

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — With Pacific ocean water already showing signs of warming, the NOAA says there's about a 66 percent chance the event will begin before November. Video provided by Newsy
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