Assessing the health risks of natural CO2 seeps in Italy

Jennifer J. Roberts, R. Stuart Haszeldine, Rachel A. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Industrialized societies which continue to use fossil fuel energy sources are considering adoption of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology to meet carbon emission reduction targets. Deep geological storage of CO2 onshore faces opposition regarding potential health effects of CO2 leakage from storage sites. There is no experience of commercial scale CCS with which to verify predicted risks of engineered storage failure. Studying risk from natural CO2 seeps can guide assessment of potential health risks from leaking onshore CO2 stores. Italy and Sicily are regions of intense natural CO2 degassing from surface seeps. These seeps exhibit a variety of expressions, characteristics (e.g., temperature/flux), and location environments. Here we quantify historical fatalities from CO2 poisoning using a database of 286 natural CO2 seeps in Italy and Sicily. We find that risk of human death is strongly influenced by seep surface expression, local conditions (e.g., topography and wind speed), CO2 flux, and human behavior. Risk of accidental human death from these CO2 seeps is calculated to be 10-8 year-1 to the exposed population. This value is significantly lower than that of many socially accepted risks. Seepage from future storage sites is modeled to be less that Italian natural flux rates. With appropriate hazard management, health risks from unplanned seepage at onshore storage sites can be adequately minimized.
LanguageEnglish
Pages16545-16548
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Volume108
Issue number40
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2011

Fingerprint

Health risks
health risk
Carbon capture
Seepage
Fluxes
seepage
Degassing
Fossil fuels
hazard management
Topography
human behavior
Hazards
carbon
Carbon
carbon emission
degassing
Health
poisoning
fossil fuel
leakage

Keywords

  • carbon dioxide storage
  • leak
  • public acceptance
  • engineered sequestration
  • aquifer

Cite this

Roberts, Jennifer J. ; Haszeldine, R. Stuart ; Wood, Rachel A. / Assessing the health risks of natural CO2 seeps in Italy. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . 2011 ; Vol. 108, No. 40. pp. 16545-16548.
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Assessing the health risks of natural CO2 seeps in Italy. / Roberts, Jennifer J.; Haszeldine, R. Stuart; Wood, Rachel A.

In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , Vol. 108, No. 40, 04.10.2011, p. 16545-16548.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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