The smell of natural gas can be overwhelming to someone who has never experienced it, but it’s a common sight to anyone who’s ever lived near it.
When the odor of natural-gas drilling leaks into the air, the smell can be extremely irritating to anyone, even to people who aren’t used to it.
That’s why a new study conducted by Ohio State University researchers found that it can be downright unpleasant for people who are sensitive to the odor.
The research, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, was conducted by researchers from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the University of Cincinnati, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and the Ohio Health Sciences Center.
The researchers also found that people who work with natural gas are more likely to experience the odor than workers who don’t.
“The average person who works in a natural gas facility is exposed to about 20,000 different types of odors,” said Dr. Michael E. Soto, a University of Ohio doctoral candidate who led the study.
“The odors we tested are unique to a specific type of natural hydrocarbon that is very volatile and can last for days, months, or years.”
While the researchers focused on Ohio natural gas facilities, other types of natural compounds are also reported to be produced by natural gas drilling, including ammonia, carbon dioxide, and ethylene oxide.
They also noted that natural gas is the most common source of nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere, which can cause respiratory problems, including headaches, nausea, and vomiting.
Soto said that while it’s likely that many people would not be affected by the odor, he and his colleagues are interested in studying whether other compounds emitted from natural gas operations could also be a concern.
“We’re trying to understand what are the risks for people, and how do we mitigate those risks, and what’s causing them,” Soto said.
“So we’re looking at what compounds are emitted and what are these chemicals that are emitting them, and we want to know how they affect people.”
The researchers say the odor could cause some problems for those who work at natural gas sites, and they hope the study will help educate the public about how to protect themselves from the odor at home.
“One of the things that we wanted to do with this study was to make sure that we were not exaggerating the risks of these odor problems for people working in natural gas,” Sota said.
“We’re really looking for information on how to minimize these problems.”
Source: Ohio State, Rutgers, OhioHealth, OhioJournal of Occupation and Environmental Health, DOI: 10.1007/s00208-017-0527-y