October 21, 2014 – Using a mobile laboratory designed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a research team from the University of Colorado at Boulder, the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology looked at air pollution from drilling and fracking operations in Utah’s Uintah Basin. The researchers found that drilling and fracking emit prodigious amounts of volatile organic air pollutants, including benzene, toluene, and methane, all of which are precursors for ground-level ozone (smog). Multiple pieces of equipment on and off the well pad, including condensate tanks, compressors, dehydrators, and pumps, served as the sources of these emissions. This research shows that drilling and fracking activities are the cause of the extraordinarily high levels of winter smog in the remote Uintah basin—which regularly exceed air quality standards and rival that of downtown Los Angeles.