Fugitive Emission Monitoring & Testing

We are all very well aware about the pollution status of the world and causes and impacts the pollution is having on our health and the environment.

But, are we aware of the type of pollution which escapes undetectably and has a major contribution to serious environmental problems like Climate Change and Global Warming?

Well, yes there is such type of pollution and these which escape undetectably are called as Fugitive emissions or Fugitive gases.

What is Fugitive Emissions?

Emissions of gases or vapors from pressurized equipment due to leaks & other unintended or irregular releases of gases, mostly from industrial activities are known as fugitive emissions.

Why is it called as Fugitive emissions instead of leaks?

The term fugitive is used because the emission are neither calculated in the system design, captured by the emission control equipment/systems nor are they detected through normal equipment monitoring process.

In simpler words, the meaning of Fugitive is the one who escapes without getting detected.

The words fugitive emissions and leaks can be used interchangeably, but not always. This is because, fugitive emission is a type of leakage which is not detected through normal monitoring processes.

All Fugitive emissions are leaks, but not all leaks are fugitive emissions

Need for Fugitive emission monitoring?

Fugitive emissions can be a real threat to human health, safety and environment. The following consequences could result from Fugitive emissions if they are not monitored and regulated.

  • Immediate threat to human health – Breathing of toxic gases like Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) could lead to headaches, fatigue, visual disorders, memory impairment, etc.
  • Increased risks of accidents and explosion.
  • Global warming, climate change and other environmental problems.
  • Economic loss through lost commodities.

Imagine how treacherous it would be working in such workplace/industries/plants where pollutants like fugitive emissions are released into the environment.

An example to this case is Bhopal Gas Tragedy

We hope you can now get a clear idea why it is necessary to monitor and curb Fugitive Emissions.

Monitoring Fugitive Emissions

Before monitoring and detection, it is always better to know the sources and pollutants released. This always counts as your first step.

Type Process Fugitive emissions released
Solid fuels Storage of coal in coal piles Particulate matter (PM)
Refineries Refining Non – methane Volatile Organic Compounds (NMVOCs), Methane (CH4), Sulphur dioxide (SO2)
Oil Extraction of oil & gas, loading of ships offshore and onshore, storage of oil, loading of tanker trucks, refuelling of cars at service station. Non – methane Volatile Organic Compounds (NMVOCs), Methane (CH4), Carbon dioxide (CO2)
Natural gas Transmission, storage, treatment & distribution of natural gas. Non – methane Volatile Organic Compounds (NMVOCs), Methane (CH4), Carbon dioxide (CO2)
Venting & Flaring Flaring in extraction industry, flaring in gas storage & treatment plants in the refineries, venting of gas in gas storage plants. Non – methane Volatile Organic Compounds (NMVOCs), Methane (CH4), Carbon dioxide (CO2), Sulphur dioxide (SO2), Particulate matter (PM), Nitrogen oxides (NOX), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Dioxin, Nitrous Oxides (N2O), Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

These are few processes and fugitive emissions which are released in the environment. These are released into environment basically due to leaks and major components which contribute to leakage are;

  • Flanges
  • Connectors
  • Valves
  • Pumps
  • Compressors
  • Pressure relief devices
  • Agitators

The best way to reduce fugitive emissions is through regular monitoring, testing and maintenance. This process is also known as LDAR (Leak Detection and Repair).

To monitor and control the emissions which escaped undetected has become easy due to advanced technology. Monitoring and control of fugitive emissions gives us a chance to live and breathe in clean, safe, healthy and protected environment.

Difference between Point Source and Fugitive Emissions

The difference between Point Source and Fugitive Emissions is that point source has one emission point which is identifiable whereas Fugitive emission or non-point source emission is collection of multiple pollutants with different sources and not all of them are readily identifiable.