Propane Among Contaminants Identified in Air Pollution Study

The Barnett Shale is a rich source of natural gas and propane and the most developed gas shale in the US. (image:

A million-dollar air study at Fort Worth, Texas, has identified excessive pollutants – including propane, methane and butane in high concentrations. But the study’s author does not believe the gas concentrations pose a public health risk.

The study measured air samples for pollutants from 388 sites, reported. Though propane, methane and butane were found in the highest concentrations, toxic pollutants of benzene, formaldehyde and acrolein were also identified.

High-powered compressor engines used by gas producing companies have been blamed for most of the high pollution readings measured at Barnett Shale facilities.

However, Eastern Research Group spokesman John Wilhelmi, who conducted the study, said Fort Worth gas wells did not present a public health danger.

“We found no measured concentration that reached levels that would be expected to be associated with adverse health effects,” he said.

Despite the assurance, members of the Fort Worth Air Quality Study Committee are calling for the high emission levels at some sites reduced.

“We need to look more closely at the compressor stuff,” committee member Rusty Fuller said. “Somehow or another we need to get that looked at and report back to the people who’ve seen this study so we can carry on.”

Fuller wants no exceptions granted to the city’s 600-foot set back regulations until compressors are modified.

As reported previously on, Barnett Shale is a rich source of natural gas and propane reserves and the most developed shale area in the US. A relatively new technique of horizontal drilling combined with hydraulic fracturing has seen gas production from the area surge.

And though increasing alternative energy production on home soil is good news because it reduces our reliance on foreign oil, “fracking” has been linked to environmental concerns and water contamination as it uses a cocktail of chemicals to blast trapped gas reserves free of underground rocks.

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