Study finds no evidence of natural gas from fracking in ohio drinking water – science newsline types of electricity

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UC researchers collected 180 groundwater samples in total at homes in the three counties. Some of the sites were sampled multiple times. In particular, researchers looked for evidence of methane, the primary compound in natural gas. They also studied changes in the acidity or pH of the water, and changes to its conductivity.

They found no increase in methane concentration or composition in groundwater over the four years of the study, despite the presence of new shale gas wells drilled in the study area. Likewise, they did not find higher methane levels in closer approximation to shale drilling.

Researchers did find wide variability in methane concentrations in the drinking water, ranging from 0.2 micrograms per liter to 25.3 milligrams per liter, which is strong enough to catch fire in enclosed spaces. But researchers found no relationship between the methane observed in drinking water and the new gas wells.

Researchers identified the chemical composition of the water using gas chromatography, isotope ratio mass spectrometry, and radiocarbon dating in a UC geology lab. Understanding the chemical composition helps identify the source of methane found in drinking water: from natural gas extraction, organic decomposition or even from the digestive systems of nearby cows.

The study area has seen increasing interest from natural gas companies in recent years. It’s located above a geological feature called the Utica Shale formation, which is known to harbor oil and natural gas. When UC launched its methane study in 2012, Ohio had issued 115 drilling permits for the region. By the study’s end in 2015, nearly 1,600 permits had been issued, primarily for Carroll County.

Researchers hypothesized that methane concentrations in the drinking-water wells they sampled would increase over time with the growth of natural gas drilling in the area. This is a correlation researchers observed in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale region.

Townsend-Small has spent much of her career researching groundwater and methane. She and other UC geologists are studying the influence of the Great Miami River on groundwater in southwest Ohio at UC’s C.V. Theis Groundwater Observatory. She also has studied atmospheric methane in relation to algae blooms in the Great Lakes and methane in arctic lakes in Alaska.

"Some people had elevated concentrations of methane in their groundwater, but the isotopic composition showed it wasn’t from natural gas. It was from a different source," Townsend-Small said. "What we found is in most cases it was probably from underground coal in the area or biological methane produced in groundwater."

Townsend-Small said protecting wells from contamination is especially important in rural areas because there are few alternatives for clean drinking water. Digging a new or deeper well is expensive and would not necessarily solve a pollution problem. And there are few opportunities in rural areas to connect to public water lines.

"It would be great if homeowners had access to ongoing monitoring," she said. "In cities, you are reassured that your drinking water is safe. We pay the public water utilities to test the water every day. But if you have a private well, you just have to hope that it’s not contaminated on a day-to-day basis."

A study of drinking water in Appalachian Ohio found no evidence of natural gas contamination from recent oil and gas drilling. Geologists with the University of Cincinnati examined drinking water in Carroll, Stark and Harrison counties, a rural region in northeast Ohio where many residents rely on water from private underground wells.

When it’s hot and dry, mosquitoes like nothing more than the refreshing taste of you. Biologists with the University of Cincinnati discovered that female mosquitoes bite not only to get the protein they need to lay eggs but also to quench their thirst during a drought. Now researchers are trying to find out just how often mosquitoes must bite to stay hydrated, which could help doctors fight illnesses such as malaria. The findings were published May 1 in Scientific Reports.

Anyone who has sat down to a summer crab feast knows how hard, messy and delicious they are. But University of Cincinnati biologist Bruce Jayne found some water snakes that specialize in catching and consuming live crabs, without the benefit of mallets, bibs or utensils.

Surfing through cable TV channels often results in catching a glimpse of a woman giving birth or preparing for motherhood in one of the popular pregnancy and childbirth reality shows. But how much do shows like "Maternity Ward," TLC’s "A Baby Story" or Discovery Health’s "Birth Day" really influence how women perceive and manage their own pregnancies? It’s a lot, according to a University of Cincinnati sociology study.

Snakes are known for their iconic S-shaped movements. But they have a less noticeable skill that gives them a unique superpower. Snakes can crawl in a straight line. University of Cincinnati biologist Bruce Jayne studied the mechanics of snake movement to understand exactly how they can propel themselves forward like a train through a tunnel.

With the increasing advantages of DNA sequencing, University of Cincinnati biologists are unraveling many evolutionary mysteries behind the complex world of spider vision. Looking closely at the mysterious genetic blueprint for how these peepers developed and function is helping researchers see great opportunities for future research. New studies could include gene therapies in humans with visual problems like macular degeneration or retinal cancer.

How often do you tell your kids they did a good job? Do you say you are proud of them? Do you help with homework? Are you emotionally engaged with your kids? A fresh look at a federally sponsored 2012 national study shows a significant link between parent’s behaviors and thoughts of suicide among adolescents, according to a presentation given by two University of Cincinnati professors at the 2017 American Public Health Association conference.