Contributed by: Tim Yeung
A 2016 review article by Hays et al. suggested a possible link between noise from unconventional oil and gas developments and detrimental health effects. However, the first study only utilized estimations from other sources and did not directly test for noise exposure from natural gas compressor stations. With the increase in natural gas production facilities, it is becoming increasingly important to assess possible health effects of such facilities, including those resulting from noise pollution. Past studies have suggested detrimental health effects from extended exposure to noise, including symptoms such as sleep disruption, poor academic performance, and hypertension.
Noises from natural gas developments can be one contributor to total ambient noise pollution. To analyze the effects of natural gas development and on noise pollution, researchers at the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health at the University of Maryland, College Park as well as the Department of Anthropology at the University of Maryland, College Park performed a pilot study to determine the level of noise emanating from natural gas compressor stations in Doddridge County, West Virginia. The researchers measured noise around two natural gas compressor stations in Doddridge County, West Virginia. The measurements were done in 11 homes located from less than 300 meters up to more than 1000 meters from the nearest compressor station. None of these 11 homes were in close proximity to more than one compressor station.
The researchers found that noise from the compressor station depended on the distance of the residence from the station, whether the measurement was done indoors or outdoors, as well as the time of day. Measurements of noise were higher for those done within 750 meters of the compressor station. The study found that all measurements of noise for those in proximity to natural gas compressor stations were in excess of the level recommended by the World Health Organization guidelines as well as the United States Environmental Protection Agency recommendations.
These results raise concerns for the health of those living within such close proximity to natural gas development. While further testing should be conducted, research endeavors as such not only identify and raise awareness of issues within the industry.