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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UCLA: Study Finds Pollutants Emitted from 2015 Aliso Canyon Methane Blowout Pose Potentially Serious Health Risks

Air quality samples collected near the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility during the 2015 blowout that led to the largest-known human-caused release of methane in U.S. history showed elevated levels of pollutants known or suspected to be associated with serious health problems, a UCLA Fielding School of Public Health-led study has found.

The study, which appears in the June 26 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Environment International, raises concerns about the potential public health impacts resulting from the methane leak at the Southern California Gas Company facility, which is located less than a mile from the Los Angeles residential community of Porter Ranch in the northwest San Fernando Valley.

Although methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that can contribute to climate change, it does not have a federal-level actionable human health benchmark. But the UCLA study found that the high methane levels in Porter Ranch during the final weeks of the event coincided with — and likely influenced —  a broad range of air pollutants known or suspected to cause certain cancers, as well as neurological and respiratory effects.

The study also found evidence that the final attempts to plug the leak in the well at the Aliso Canyon facility were associated with particle emissions that likely came from the well site, and that the well and/or activities associated with attempts to mitigate the leak had a discernible effect on the indoor air environments of homes that were sampled.

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