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Identifying chemicals of concern in hydraulic fracturing fluids used for oil production

A field lab for ad hoc testing of frac fluids.

A field lab for ad hoc testing of frac fluids.

Based on an analysis of quantities used, toxicity, and lack of adequate hazard evaluation, QACs, biocides, and corrosion inhibitors were identified as priority chemicals of concern that deserve further investigation.

Abstract
Chemical additives used for hydraulic fracturing and matrix acidizing of oil reservoirs were reviewed and priority chemicals of concern needing further environmental risk assessment, treatment demonstration, or evaluation of occupational hazards were identified. We evaluated chemical additives used for well stimulation in California, the third largest oil producing state in the USA, by the mass and frequency of use, as well as toxicity.

The most frequently used chemical additives in oil development were gelling agents, cross-linkers, breakers, clay control agents, iron and scale control agents, corrosion inhibitors, biocides, and various impurities and product stabilizers used as part of commercial mixtures. Hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acids, used for matrix acidizing and other purposes, were reported infrequently. A large number and mass of solvents and surface active agents were used, including quaternary ammonia compounds (QACs) and nonionic surfactants.

Acute toxicity was evaluated and many chemicals with low hazard to mammals were identified as potentially hazardous to aquatic environments. Based on an analysis of quantities used, toxicity, and lack of adequate hazard evaluation, QACs, biocides, and corrosion inhibitors were identified as priority chemicals of concern that deserve further investigation.

KEYWORDS:
Biocides; Corrosion inhibitors; Hydraulic fracturing; Oil production; Produced water; Well stimulation

Bibliography:
Stringfellow WT1, Camarillo MK2, Domen JK2, Sandelin WL2, Varadharajan C3, Jordan PD3, Reagan MT3, Cooley H4, Heberger MG4, Birkholzer JT3.
Identifying chemicals of concern in hydraulic fracturing fluids used for oil production.
Environ Pollut. 2016 Oct 12. pii: S0269-7491(16)31492-0. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2016.09.082. [Epub ahead of print]

DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2016.09.082

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