- Public Participation in Air Sampling and Water Quality Test Kit Development to Enable Citizen Science
What Is the Purpose of This Study/Review?
• To establish an academic–community partnership to address Guernsey County residents' concern regarding environmental quality near proposed and operating natural gas extraction waste sites.
• To develop a citizen science tool for water quality assessment by engagement of the local middle and high schools.
What Is the Problem?
• Natural gas extraction creates liquid, solid, and gaseous waste and the management of these wastes is a public health concern.
• Natural gas extraction waste facilities are often located in underserved areas, an environmental justice issue for these communities.
• The dramatic increase in natural gas extraction activity has caused concern among community members of Guernsey County and neighboring counties.
What Are the Findings?
• Together we selected 10 air sampling locations in proximity to current or proposed natural gas extraction sites, obtained cooperation from landowners, and conducted air quality monitoring over a 6-week period.
• Volatile organic compounds were detected at all 10 air sampling locations.
• Nineteen unique volatile organic compounds were detected; one was above the recommended exposure level.
• Water quality test kits were developed and piloted in middle school and high school classrooms.
Who Should Care Most?
• Residents, public health officials, and emergency responders in rural communities with nearby natural gas extraction activity.
• Educators and residents with an interest in participating in environmental health research via citizen science. [End Page 123]
Recommendations for Action
• Baseline measurements should be taken at any potential natural gas extraction sites and routine monitoring be conducted thereafter to characterize long-term exposures.
• Water and soil sampling should be performed.
• Data such as truck traffic and gallons of waste injected should be documented.
• Engaging residents in research is a useful tool for increasing awareness and connecting communities to research. [End Page 124]