Daily Archives: May 9, 2015

Groundwater Contamination Attributed to Macellus Shale Gas Development

Llewellyn GT, Dorman F, Westland JL, Yoxtheimer D, Grieve P, Sowers T, Humston-Fulmer E, Brantley SL. Evaluating a groundwater supply contamination incident attributed to Marcellus Shale gas development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2015 May 4. pii: 201420279.

High-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) has revolutionized the oil and gas industry worldwide but has been accompanied by highly controversial incidents of reported water contamination. For example, groundwater contamination by stray natural gas and spillage of brine and other gas drilling-related fluids is known to occur. However, contamination of shallow potable aquifers by HVHF at depth has never been fully documented. We investigated a case where Marcellus Shale gas wells in Pennsylvania caused inundation of natural gas and foam in initially potable groundwater used by several households. With comprehensive 2D gas chromatography coupled to time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GCxGC-TOFMS), an unresolved complex mixture of organic compounds was identified in the aquifer. Similar signatures were also observed in flowback from Marcellus Shale gas wells. A compound identified in flowback, 2-n-Butoxyethanol, was also positively identified in one of the foaming drinking water wells at nanogram-per-liter concentrations. The most likely explanation of the incident is that stray natural gas and drilling or HF compounds were driven ∼1-3 km along shallow to intermediate depth fractures to the aquifer used as a potable water source. Part of the problem may have been wastewaters from a pit leak reported at the nearest gas well pad-the only nearby pad where wells were hydraulically fractured before the contamination incident. If samples of drilling, pit, and HVHF fluids had been available, GCxGC-TOFMS might have fingerprinted the contamination source. Such evaluations would contribute significantly to better management practices as the shale gas industry expands worldwide.

Toxicity of Haloacetaldehyde in Drinking Water

Jeong CH, Postigo C, Richardson S, Simmons JE, Kimura S, Marinas BJ, Barcelo D, Liang P, Wagner ED, Plewa MJ. The Occurrence and Comparative Toxicity of Haloacetaldehyde Disinfection Byproducts in Drinking Water. Environmental Science and Technology.2015 May 5.

The introduction of drinking water disinfection greatly reduced waterborne diseases. However, the reaction between disinfectants and natural organic matter in the source water leads to an unintended consequence, the formation of drinking water disinfection byproducts (DBPs). The haloacetaldehydes (HALs) are the third largest group by weight of identified DBPs in drinking water. The primary objective of this study was to analyze the occurrence and comparative toxicity of the emerging HAL DBPs. A new HAL DBP, iodoacetaldehyde (IAL) was identified. This study provided the first systematic, quantitative comparison of HAL toxicity in Chinese hamster ovary cells. The rank order of HAL cytotoxicity is tribromoacetaldehyde (TBAL) ≈ chloroacetaldehyde (CAL) > dibromoacetaldehyde (DBAL) ≈ bromochloroacetaldehyde (BCAL) ≈ dibromochloroacetaldehyde (DBCAL) > IAL > bromoacetaldehyde (BAL) ≈ bromodichloroacetaldehyde (BDCAL) > dichloroacetaldehyde (DCAL) > trichloroacetaldehyde (TCAL). The HALs were highly cytotoxic compared to other DBP chemical classes. The rank order of HAL genotoxicity is DBAL > CAL ≈ DBCAL > TBAL ≈ BAL > BDCAL > BCAL ≈ DCAL > IAL. TCAL was not genotoxic. Because of their toxicity and abundance, further research is needed to investigate their mode of action to protect the public health and the environment.

Uranium in Small Water Systems in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

Ostendorp G.[Uranium Concentration in Drinking Water from Small-scale Water Supplies in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.] Gesundheitswesen. 2014 Oct 30. [Article in German]

In this study the drinking water of 212 small-scale water supplies, mainly situated in areas with intensive agriculture or fruit-growing, was analysed for uranium. The median uranium concentration amounted to 0.04 µg/lL, the 95th percentile was 2.5 µg/L. The maximum level was 14 µg/L. This sample exceeded the guideline value for uranium in drinking water. The uranium concentration in small-scale water supplies was found to be slightly higher than that in central water works in Schleswig-Holstein. Water containing more than 10 mg/L nitrate showed significantly higher uranium contents. The results indicate that the uranium burden in drinking water from small wells is mainly determined by geological factors. An additional anthropogenic effect of soil management cannot be excluded. Overall uranium concentrations were low and not causing health concerns. However, in specific cases higher concentrations may occur.

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