August 16, 2016

Boulder scientists contribute to study of Front Range ozone contributors

Charlie Brennan
The Daily Camera

About 17 percent of the volatile organic compounds contributing to the chronic ozone problem on Colorado's Front Range can be traced to oil and gas emissions, according to a study published Monday.

The first peer-reviewed study to quantify the issue was carried out by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, and was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Researchers analyzed nearly 50,000 high-precision measurements of chemical vapors taken at one location on the Front Range with a new modeling technique that separated the contributions of oil and gas activities, CIRES scientist and study lead author Erin McDuffie said in a news release.

Denver has been out of compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency's ozone standard since 2007. Because background ozone levels about the Boulder-Denver metro area are already high, VOCs from any source are significant, according to NOAA's Steven Brown, a study co-author.