SPATIAL ANALYSIS OF UNCONVENTIONAL GAS INFRASTRUCTURE LOCATION AND EMISSIONS IN RELATION TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN WASHINGTON COUNTY, PA
We used 2016 compressor station and wellhead locations with linked emissions data from the Pennsylvania DEP in conjunction with school locations to understand the proximity of schools to sources of hazardous airborne pollutants. Areas around infrastructure sites with radii corresponding to different regulatory and health limits were used in order to show how many schools overlap with each zone. We paired this analysis with the volumes of hazardous emissions from each site to visualize the potential health implications.
Of the 49 public schools in Washington County, PA, most are affected by wells and/or compressor stations. Thirteen lie within the standard evacuation radius of a wellhead (0.8 miles; 26.5%) while 38 schools (77.6%) lie within the 1.8 mile radius of wellheads within which negative birth outcomes, such as significant reduction in birth weights and gestational time, are statistically more common. The compressor stations, which produce roughly six times the total volume of emissions on average of the wellheads, have two schools within 0.8 miles (4.08%) and seven schools within 1.8 miles (14.3%). Six of these seven schools are also within at least 1.8 miles of a wellhead.
This spatial analysis gives insight into the number of schools impacted by potentially hazardous emissions and the intensity of emissions to which they are exposed. We used these data to produce instructive graphics that can be used for future educational outreach through the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project.