Natural Gas Blow-Downs – What Is Released?


Notify NYC is the City of New York’s official (and terrific) source for real-time information about emergency events and city services.

Among reports about missing persons, dangerous weather conditions, and transit delays, this free service alerts New Yorkers when natural gas is released into the air, as in this post, issued today:

Full disclosure, I’m a proud member of the “environmental movement,” recently decried by The Wall Street Journal for arguing against fracked gas by “stoking fears about chemical mixes leaching into aquifers, poisoned potable water and toxic spills.” That said, I ask if any agency – federal, state, or local – is adequately funded to measure the impact of “controlled releases” of gas such as this one reported by Notify NYC.

From what I’ve been able to gather so far, the Notify NYC alert describes a “blow-down” coming from a compressor or metering station on a commercial natural gas pipeline. These releases are done when maintenance is needed or in an emergency event to prevent a pipe from exploding. The entire content of the pipeline – methane, toluene, benzene, etc – is released in the transfer from one station to another. The long-term damage to the atmosphere is one part of the risk equation, another is the danger to people living in close proximity to the compressor or metering station.

I’m writing this post to ask if anyone is paying attention when a company releases fracked gas into the atmosphere around NYC, and if anyone is recording the greenhouse gases and any other toxins that are released.

Here’s what a blow-down looks and sounds like:

Medicinal Plants of Ada’a District, Oromia Regional State, Ethiopia


Ethnobotany of medicinal plants in Ada’a District, East Shewa Zone of Oromia Regional State, Ethiopia

Kefalew A, Asfaw Z, Kelbessa E
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2015 Apr 2;11(1):25
PubMed Central PMC4419563

Investigators at Addis Ababa University conducted an ethnobotanical study in Ada’a District in Oromia Regional State of Ethiopia to identify and document medicinal plants and the ethnomedicinal knowledge of the local people.

The authors note that this is the first ethnobotanical documentation work in the district and that there “is a clear need to conduct ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants in the area, to look into and compile relevant information and to document them before the plants become too scarce to capture the knowledge of the indigenous people.”

Allium sativum
Allium sativum [source: Wikimedia Commons, William Woodville: „Medical botany“, London, James Phillips, 1793]
Using guided field walks, semi-structured interviews and direct field observations, the team documented 131 medicinal species including Allium sativum, Rubia cordifolia and Ruta chalepensis. A number of the plants are listed threatened, near-threatened or vulnerable on IUCN Red lists.

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.