Community Noise and Air Pollution Exposure During the Development of a Multi-Well Oil and Gas Pad

Environ Sci Technol. 2019 Jun 18;53(12):7126-7135. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.9b00052. Epub 2019 Jun 5.


Unconventional oil and gas development (UOGD) in the United States is increasingly being conducted on multiwell pads (MWPs) and in residential areas. We measured air pollution, noise, and truck traffic during four distinct phases of UOGD: drilling, hydraulic fracturing, flowback, and production. We monitored particulate matter (PM2.5), black carbon (BC), A-weighted (dBA), and C-weighted (dBC) noise using real-time instruments on 1 and 5 min time scales, and truck traffic for 4-7 days per phase at a large 22-well pad sited in a residential area of Weld County, Colorado. Hydraulic fracturing, which requires frequent truck trips to move supplies and diesel engines to power the process, had the highest median air pollution levels of PM2.5 and BC and experienced the greatest number of heavy trucks per hour compared to other phases. Median air pollution was lowest during drilling at this MWP, possibly because an electric drill rig was used. The equivalent continuous noise level ( Leq) exceeded guidelines of 50 dBA and 65 dBC for A-weighted and C-weighted noise, respectively, during all development phases. Our data show that these multiple stressors are present around the clock at these sites, and this work provides baseline measurements on likely human exposure levels near similarly sized MWPs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants*
  • Air Pollution*
  • Colorado
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Noise
  • Particulate Matter
  • United States


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter