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Evaluation of Groundwater Samples in Hydraulic Fracturing and Non-Fracturing Counties from 2015 to 2021 using the Pennsylvania Groundwater Quality Monitoring Network

Hoffman, Caroline (2023) Evaluation of Groundwater Samples in Hydraulic Fracturing and Non-Fracturing Counties from 2015 to 2021 using the Pennsylvania Groundwater Quality Monitoring Network. Master Essay, University of Pittsburgh.

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Hydraulic fracturing is commonly referred as the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock by injecting water and additives into the earth and ‘fracturing’ the shale to release gas. Pennsylvania, specifically, has seen a continuous increase in hydraulic fracturing. However, the increase has led to public concerns because of the potential health effects from fracking. The additives used in fracturing fluid consist of carcinogens, toxins, and endocrine disrupters. Additionally, the fracturing fluid has the potential to carry naturally occurring metals and radionucleotides to nearby water sources. The purpose of this essay is to evaluate the potential use of the Pennsylvania Groundwater Monitoring Network (USGS affiliated) to assess water quality measures in counties with hydraulic fracturing related to unconventional natural gas development activities. Permanent observation wells for this program are maintained in sentinel counties and over 100 water quality measures are obtained in the spring and fall to monitor and analyze groundwater conditions. Six water quality measures, temperature, pH, barium, selenium, strontium, and uranium were chosen based on previous literature and frequency of measurements throughout the time period. A cross sectional study was conducted considering yearly measurements in 27 Pennsylvania counties, 19 have fracking and 8 do not. This was validated by mapping the latitude and longitude of the sampled wells to determine proximity from fracking activity. Univariate linear regression was conducted within fracking counties to consider gas production and water quality measures. Results demonstrated a significant association between gas production and each measure, where gas production explains about 5-22% of the variation in water quality measures. A multivariate linear regression also found the water measures account for 34.45% of the variation in gas production. The findings support the hypothesis that water quality measures associated with natural gas production in Pennsylvania are higher in counties with hydraulic fracturing than non-fracturing counties. This evaluation supports the conclusion that hydraulic fracturing may contribute to the pollution of groundwater and subsequently affect public health.


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Item Type: Other Thesis, Dissertation, or Long Paper (Master Essay)
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hoffman, Carolinecah293@pitt.educah293
ContributionContributors NameEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis advisorTalbott, Evelyneot1@pitt.edueot1UNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberYouk, Adaayouk@pitt.eduayoukUNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberSharma, Ravirks1946@pitt.edurks1946UNSPECIFIED
Date: 5 January 2023
Date Type: Completion
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 50
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Epidemiology
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master Essay
Refereed: No
Uncontrolled Keywords: hydraulic fracturing, groundwater, water quality, natural gas
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2023 14:09
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2023 14:09


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