A pilot study to assess residential noise exposure near natural gas compressor stations

Meleah D. Boyle, Sutyajeet Soneja, Lesliam Quiros-Alcala, Laura Dalemarre, Amy R. Sapkota, Thurka Sangaramoorthy, Sacoby Wilson, Donald Milton, Amir Sapkota

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background U.S. natural gas production increased 40% from 2000 to 2015. This growth is largely related to technological advances in horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Environmental exposures upon impacted communities are a significant public health concern. Noise associated with natural gas compressor stations has been identified as a major concern for nearby residents, though limited studies exist. Objectives We conducted a pilot study to characterize noise levels in 11 homes located in Doddridge County, West Virginia, and determined whether these levels differed based on time of day, indoors vs. outdoors, and proximity of homes to natural gas compressor stations. We also compared noise levels at increasing distances from compressor stations to available noise guidelines, and evaluated low frequency noise presence. Methods We collected indoor and outdoor 24-hour measurements (Leq, 24hr) in eight homes located within 750 meters (m) of the nearest compressor station and three control homes located >1000m. We then evaluated how A-weighted decibel (dBA) exposure levels differed based on factors outlined above. Results The geometric mean (GM) for 24-hour outdoor noise levels at homes located <300m (Leq,24hr: 60.3 dBA; geometric standard deviation (GSD): 1.0) from the nearest compressor station was nearly 9 dBA higher than control homes (Leq,24hr: 51.6 dBA; GSD: 1.1). GM for 24 hour indoor noise for homes <300m (Leq,24hr: 53.4 dBA; GSD: 1.2) from the nearest compressor station was 11.2 dBA higher than control homes (Leq,24hr: 42.2 dBA; GSD: 1.1). Indoor average daytime noise for homes <300m of the nearest compressor stations were 13.1 dBA higher than control homes, while indoor nighttime readings were 9.4 dBA higher. Conclusions Findings indicate that living near a natural gas compressor station could potentially result in high environmental noise exposures. Larger studies are needed to confirm these findings and evaluate potential health impacts and protection measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0174310
JournalPloS one
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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