Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research Shows That Reported Oil Sands Emissions Greatly Underestimated

06.02.2014
A new comprehensive modeling assessment of contamination in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region indicates that officially reported emissions of certain hazardous air pollutants have been greatly underestimated.

The results of the assessment, which was carried out by University of Toronto Scarborough Environmental Chemistry professor Frank Wania and his PhD candidate Abha Parajulee, will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science Monday, February 3 2014. The study constitutes the most comprehensive such model that has been done for the Oil Sands Region.

The team used a model to assess the plausibility of reported emissions of a group of atmospheric pollutants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Many PAHs are highly carcinogenic.

“When dealing with chemicals that have the potential to harm people and animals, it is vital that we have a good understanding of how, and how much they are entering the environment,” said Parajulee, the lead author of the paper.

PAHs are released during the process of extracting petroleum from the oil sands. Environmental Impact Assessments have so far only considered the PAHs that are released directly into the atmosphere. The risk associated with those direct releases was judged to fall within acceptable regulatory limits.

The model used by Parajulee and Wania takes into account other indirect pathways for the release of PAHs that hadn’t been assessed before or were deemed negligible. For instance, they found that evaporation from tailings ponds – lakes of polluted water also created through oil sands processing – may actually introduce more PAHs into the atmosphere than direct emissions.

“Tailings ponds are not the end of the journey for many of the pollutants they contain. Some PAHs are volatile, meaning they escape into the air much more than many people think,” says Parajulee. (pictured seated at right with Wania).

The higher levels of PAHs the UTSC scientists’ model predicts when accounting for emissions from tailings ponds are consistent with what has actually been measured in samples taken from areas near and in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region.

The authors also found, however, that tailings ponds emissions are likely not significant contributors of relatively involatile PAHs to the Oil Sands Region atmosphere. Instead, other emissions sources not taken into account by the environmental impact assessment, such as blowing dust, are probably more important for these chemicals.

The pair of researchers modeled only three PAHs, which they believe are representative of others. Still, they say, their model indicates better monitoring data and emissions information are needed to improve our understanding of the environmental impact of the oil sands even further.

“Our study implies that PAH concentrations in air, water, and food, that are estimated as part of environmental impact assessments of oil sands mining operations are very likely too low,” says Wania. “Therefore the potential risks to humans and wildlife may also have been underestimated.”

Don Campbell | Newswise
Further information:
http://www.utoronto.ca

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Coorong Fish Hedge Their Bets for Survival
27.03.2015 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Greener Industry If Environmental Authorities Change Strategy
27.03.2015 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Experiment Provides the Best Look Yet at 'Warm Dense Matter' at Cores of Giant Planets

In an experiment at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, scientists precisely measured the temperature and structure of aluminum as...

Im Focus: Energy-autonomous and wireless monitoring protects marine gearboxes

The IPH presents a solution at HANNOVER MESSE 2015 to make ship traffic more reliable while decreasing the maintenance costs at the same time. In cooperation with project partners, the research institute from Hannover, Germany, has developed a sensor system which continuously monitors the condition of the marine gearbox, thus preventing breakdowns. Special feature: the monitoring system works wirelessly and energy-autonomously. The required electrical power is generated where it is needed – directly at the sensor.

As well as cars need to be certified regularly (in Germany by the TÜV – Technical Inspection Association), ships need to be inspected – if the powertrain stops...

Im Focus: 3-D satellite, GPS earthquake maps isolate impacts in real time

Method produced by UI researcher could improve reaction time to deadly, expensive quakes

When an earthquake hits, the faster first responders can get to an impacted area, the more likely infrastructure--and lives--can be saved.

Im Focus: Atlantic Ocean overturning found to slow down already today

The Atlantic overturning is one of Earth’s most important heat transport systems, pumping warm water northwards and cold water southwards. Also known as the Gulf Stream system, it is responsible for the mild climate in northwestern Europe. 

Scientists now found evidence for a slowdown of the overturning – multiple lines of observation suggest that in recent decades, the current system has been...

Im Focus: Robot inspects concrete garage floors and bridge roadways for damage

Because they are regularly subjected to heavy vehicle traffic, emissions, moisture and salt, above- and underground parking garages, as well as bridges, frequently experience large areas of corrosion. Most inspection systems to date have only been capable of inspecting smaller surface areas.

From April 13 to April 17 at the Hannover Messe (hall 2, exhibit booth C16), engineers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Nondestructive Testing IZFP will be...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

World Conference On Regenerative Medicine 2015: Registration And Abstract Submission Now Open

25.03.2015 | Event News

University presidents from all over the world meet in Hamburg

19.03.2015 | Event News

10. CeBiTec Symposium zum Big Data-Problem

17.03.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Biology in a twist -- deciphering the origins of cell behavior

31.03.2015 | Life Sciences

Wrapping carbon nanotubes in polymers enhances their performance

31.03.2015 | Materials Sciences

Research Links Two Millennia of Cyclones, Floods, El Niño

31.03.2015 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>