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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Kentucky: Citizen Science Study Tests Air Quality Near Gas Extraction Sites

When residents of Guernsey County, Ohio, approached researchers to assess air and water quality near natural gas extraction (NGE) sites, Dr. Erin Haynes, professor and chair of epidemiology at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health saw it as a great potential academic-community partnership.

What resulted was a baseline air quality sampling assessment conducted in 10 sites across Muskingum, Guernsey, Noble and Belmont counties in Ohio. The research is published online in the journal Progress in Community Health Partnerships.

Dr. Haynes and team used a community-based participatory research approach, partnering with the Guernsey County community to conduct a pilot research study in October and November 2016 to assess baseline air quality near proposed and active NGE sites and develop a citizen science water quality test kit.

Community partners were actively involved throughout the study. The team also worked with teachers from area school districts to develop a citizen science water quality test kit for use in the classroom.

The air quality study sampled air at 10 locations for 63 different Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Seven of these ten locations had no NGE activity within 300 meters, which allowed the collection of baseline measurements. The results showed low levels of VOCs across the 10 test sites; however, the samples detected as many as 19 unique VOCs, with one compound (trichloroethene) above the recommended exposure level. The findings from the study were then reported back to local officials and community members.

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