Over the past few months we have seen repeated calls for time based air quality monitors, that will provide real-time accurate data on a 24/7 basis, from individuals, community groups, Lochgelly Community Council, local councillors, MSPs and MPs. The initial costs would be around £750,000, to purchase the proper equipment, plus annual running costs. The data can then be fed into the existing public platform at: http://www.scottishairquality.co.uk/

Organisations as large as Shell, who reportedly earned £5,800,000,000 in profit for the first quarter of 2013, and ExxonMobil, who reportedly earned £6,200,000,000 in profit for the first quarter of 2013, can easily afford to purchase three time based air quality monitors for the Lochgelly, Auchtertool and Cowdenbeath area.

Since, Little Raith Wind Farm was identified as having the potential to increase pollutants in higher concentrations, which is an acknowledged environmental impact. Kennedy Renewables could also be expected to contribute to the cost. Their current testing is limited to average benzene levels, and has been criticised by SEPA;

Whilst these data would show changes in the annual mean concentrations, they cannot show the subtle changes that we would need to fully asses the effect on emissions.

A contribution could also be sought from other wind farm developments approved in proximity to Mossmorran, which include Clentrie, Goathill Quarry, and Mossmorran. Likewise a contribution could be attached as a condition for any future consented turbines in the area which currently include Kirkton, Scottswalls, Camila, Glenniston, Powguild, and Balbarton

Spreading the cost between the plant operators and wind farm operators would show commitment to being good neighbours. If the data collected demonstrated that our communities were not at risk, growing local concern would be alleviated, SEPA would have more real-time accurate data to help them in the regulation of the plant, and the equipment would be in place for continued monitoring for the lifetime of the plant.

Air pollutants emitted

The following list of air pollutants emitted is sourced from the annual reports provided by SEPA.

  • Benzene
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
  • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
  • Methane
  • Nitrogen oxides, NO and NO2 as NO2
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs)
  • Particulate matter – PM10 and smaller (PM2.5)
  • Sulphur oxides, SO2 and SO3 as SO2

Annual returns for Shell – SEPA

  • Benzene
  • Butadiene
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Ethylene
  • Methane
  • Nitrogen oxides, NO and NO2 as NO2
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs)
  • Particulate matter – PM10 and smaller (PM2.5)
  • Propylene
  • Sulphur oxides, SO2 and SO3 as SO2
  • Toluene

Annual returns for ExxonMobil – SEPA

The following list of health impacts from pollutants has been copied directly from government, educational, and environmental regulation agencies. Please note that some of the pollutants listed are not solely from the Mossmorran complex, and can be found in various sources from naturally occurring processes, industrial processes, heavy traffic, and in domestic environments, etc.

The following information is provided for educational purposes only.


Benzene is emitted by both Shell and ExxonMobil. Benzene is also a natural part of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke.

Short Term Exposure: Drowsiness, Dizziness, Rapid or irregular heartbeat, Headaches, Tremors, Confusion, Unconsciousness, Death (at very high levels). Direct exposure of the eyes, skin, or lungs to benzene can cause tissue injury and irritation.

Long Term Exposure: Benzene causes harmful effects on the bone marrow and can cause a decrease in red blood cells, leading to anemia. It can also cause excessive bleeding and can affect the immune system, increasing the chance for infection. Some women who breathed high levels of benzene for many months had irregular menstrual periods and a decrease in the size of their ovaries. It is not known whether benzene exposure affects the developing fetus in pregnant women or fertility in men. Animal studies have shown low birth weights, delayed bone formation, and bone marrow damage when pregnant animals breathed benzene. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has determined that benzene causes cancer in humans. Long-term exposure to high levels of benzene in the air can cause leukemia, cancer of the blood-forming organs.

Further Information: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/benzene/basics/facts.asp


Butadeine is emitted by ExxonMobil. Sources of 1,3-butadiene released into the air include motor vehicle exhaust, manufacturing and processing facilities, forest fires or other combustion, and cigarette smoke.

Acute Low Exposure: Acute low exposures may cause irritation to the eyes, throat, nose, and lungs. Frostbite may also occur with skin exposure.

Acute High Exposure: Acute high exposures may cause damage to the central nervous system or cause symptoms such as distorted blurred vision, vertigo, general tiredness, decreased blood pressure, headache, nausea, decreased pulse rate, and fainting.

Chronic Effects: Chronic effects caused by exposure to 1,3-butadiene are controversial. Several human epidemiological studies have shown an increase in cardiovascular diseases and cancer. However, due to the small numbers of cancers and confounding factors such as smoking, and simultaneous exposure to benzene and styrene, a true causal relationship cannot be established. Experiments involving chronic exposures to mice and rats have shown a strong causal relationship between 1,3-butadiene exposure and cancer. Animal studies have also shown reproductive and developmental problems. Based on human and animal studies, the EPA has classified 1,3-butadiene as a known human carcinogen.

Further Information: http://www.epa.gov/ttnatw01/hlthef/butadien.html

Carbon Dioxide

Carbon Dioxide is emitted by both Shell and ExxonMobil. You can be exposed to low levels of carbon dioxide if you drink carbonated beverages, burn fossil fuels for heating or cooking, use dry ice, or use a vehicle that uses gasoline.

Low Exposure: Exposure to lower concentrations of carbon dioxide can cause hyperventilation, vision damage, lung congestion, central nervous system injury, abrupt muscle contractions, elevated blood pressure, and shortness of breath. Exposure can also cause dizziness, headache, sweating, fatigue, numbness and tingling of extremities, memory loss, nausea, vomiting, depression, confusion, skin and eye burns, and ringing in the ears.

High Exposure: Carbon dioxide in its gas form is an asphyxiant, which cuts off the oxygen supply for breathing, especially in confined spaces. Exposure to concentrations of 10 percent or more of carbon dioxide can cause death, unconsciousness, or convulsions. Exposure may damage a developing fetus.

Further Information: http://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/text_version/chemicals.php?id=6

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide is emitted by both Shell and ExxonMobil. Other sources of carbon monoxide include unvented kerosene and gas space heaters; leaking chimneys and furnaces; gas stoves; back-drafting from furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves, fireplaces; vehicle exhaust, and cigarette smoke.

Low Exposure: Exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide can cause fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath, memory loss, skin lesions, sweating, and flu-like symptoms. In the long term, exposure to low levels can cause heart disease and damage to the nervous system. Skin contact with liquid carbon monoxide in the workplace can cause frostbite.

High Exposure: Exposure to very high concentrations of carbon monoxide can cause convulsions, coma, and death through carbon monoxide poisoning. Exposure to high levels can cause impaired vision and coordination, unconsciousness, headaches, dizziness, confusion, vomiting, muscle weakness, and nausea.

Further Information: http://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/text_version/chemicals.php?id=7


Ethylene is emitted by ExxonMobil. Sources of ethylene oxide emissions into the air include uncontrolled emissions or venting with other gases in industrial settings. Other sources of ethylene oxide air emissions include automobile exhaust and cigarette smoke.

Acute Effects: Acute inhalation exposure of workers to high levels of ethylene oxide has resulted in nausea, vomiting, neurological disorders, bronchitis, pulmonary edema, and emphysema at high concentrations. Dermal or ocular contact with solutions of ethylene oxide has caused irritation of the eyes and skin in humans.

Chronic Effects: Major effects observed in workers exposed to ethylene oxide at low levels for several years are irritation of the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes and problems in the functioning of the brain and nerves. There is evidence suggesting that long-term exposure to high levels of ethylene oxide, at a level of 700 parts per million (ppm), can result in cataracts in humans.

Further Information: http://www.epa.gov/ttnatw01/hlthef/ethylene.html

Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)

Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) is emitted by Shell. The most significant releases of HCFCs occur as leakage from cooling appliances which contain them, both during their manufacture, use and disposal.

Low Exposure: Ingestion of some hydrochlorofluorocarbons may cause nausea, headache, dizziness and disorientation. Dermal contact with some hydrochlorofluorocarbons may cause skin irritation, dermatitis and frostbite.

High Exposure: Inhalation of air containing high levels of some hydrochlorofluorocarbons may lead to health effects including chest tightness, irritation of the respiratory tract, and breathing difficulties. Exposure to high levels of some hydrochlorofluorocarbons may also affect the nervous system, heart, liver, kidney and reproductive system.

Further Information: http://apps.sepa.org.uk/spripa/Pages/SubstanceInformation.aspx?pid=120

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) is emitted by Shell. The main sources of HFCs are from the manufacture of, leakage from and end of life disposal of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment and aerosols.

Low Exposure: At environmental concentrations HFCs pose little threat to human health.

High Exposure: At higher concentrations that might result from an accidental release or in occupational settings, they are thought to be mildly toxic and possibly carcinogenic.

Further Information: http://apps.sepa.org.uk/spripa/Pages/SubstanceInformation.aspx?pid=121


Methane is emitted by both Shell and ExxonMobil. Methane can also be found in coal gas. Pockets of methane exist naturally underground. In homes, methane may be used to fuel a water heater, stove and clothes dryer.

Short Term Exposure: Immediately or shortly after exposure to oxygen levels of less than 15% in air, a person may feel tired, dizzy, and have a headache.

Long Term Exposure: No long term health effects are currently associated with exposure to methane.

Further Information: http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/eh/chemfs/fs/Methane.htm

Nitrogen oxides, NO and NO2 as NO2

Nitrogen oxides, NO and NO2 as NO2 are emitted by both Shell and ExxonMobil. Nitrogen dioxide belongs to a family of highly reactive gases called nitrogen oxides (NOx). These gases form when fuel is burned at high temperatures, and come principally from motor vehicle exhaust and stationary sources such as electric utilities and industrial boilers.

Short Term Exposure: Current scientific evidence links short-term NO2 exposures, ranging from 30 minutes to 24 hours, with adverse respiratory effects including airway inflammation in healthy people and increased respiratory symptoms in people with asthma. Also, studies show a connection between breathing elevated short-term NO2 concentrations, and increased visits to emergency departments and hospital admissions for respiratory issues, especially asthma.

Long Term Exposure: Can irritate the lungs and lower resistance to respiratory infections such as influenza. Continued or frequent exposure to concentrations that are typically much higher than those normally found in the ambient air may cause increased incidence of acute respiratory illness in children. Increasing sensitivity for asthmatics and people with bronchitis.

Further Information: http://www.epa.gov/airtrends/aqtrnd95/no2.html

Nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide is emitted by both Shell and ExxonMobil. Nitrous oxide is emitted when people add nitrogen to the soil through the use of synthetic fertilizers. Nitrous oxide is emitted when transportation fuels are burned. Motor vehicles, including passenger cars and trucks, are the primary source of N2O emissions from transportation.

Long Term Exposure: Spontaneous abortions, Congenital abnormalities, Depressed cell formation and function, Nervous system disorders, Liver disease, Kidney disease, Vitamin B12 and folate deficiency.

Further Information: http://ehs.columbia.edu/NitrousOxideHealthHazards.pdf

Non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs)

Non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) is emitted by both Shell and ExxonMobil. The main source of NMVOC is from the burning of fossil fuels, particularly for road transport. They are also found in solvents, paints and aerosols. Smaller amounts are also released from dry cleaning, production of alcoholic drinks and from arable farming.

Long Term Exposure: Excessive exposure to some chemicals in this diverse group may cause effects on health, depending on the particular chemical. Many NMVOCs are involved in reactions that form ground-level ozone, which can damage crops and many materials as well as have potential effects on human health and can exacerbate respiratory conditions such as asthma. Some NMVOCs are toxic to humans. Some (such as benzene and 1,3-butadiene) have been shown to be carcinogenic when there is sufficient exposure

Further Information: http://apps.sepa.org.uk/spripa/Pages/SubstanceInformation.aspx?pid=123

Particulate matter – PM2.5 and PM10

Particulate matter – PM2.5 and PM10 is emitted by both Shell and ExxonMobil. PM10 is made up of smoke, dirt and dust from factories, farming, road traffic, mold spores, and pollen. PM2.5 is made up from toxic organic compounds, and heavy metals.

Health Effects: Both PM10 (big) and PM2.5 (small) particles can cause health problems; specifically respiratory health (that’s the lungs and airway). Because the PM2.5 travels deeper into the lungs AND because the PM2.5 is made up things that are more toxic (like heavy metals and cancer causing organic compounds), PM2.5 can have worse health effects than the bigger PM10.

Exposure to particulate matter leads to increased use of medication and more visits to the doctor or emergency room. Health effects include the following:

  • Coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath
  • Aggravated asthma
  • Lung damage (including decreased lung function and lifelong respiratory disease)
  • Premature death in individuals with existing heart or lung diseases

Further Information: http://www.airinfonow.org/html/ed_particulate.html


Propylene is emitted by ExxonMobil. Propene is also released from some combustion processes, such as waste incineration and in vehicle exhaust fumes.

Health Effects: Inhalation of high levels of propylene can lead to a range of adverse health effects including headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, poor coordination, memory loss, numbness of extremities, seizures and can cause asphyxia. Ingestion of propylene may cause vomiting, nausea and gastrointestinal haemorrhage. Dermal contact with propylene can cause skin burns and frostbite. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has designated propylene as being not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans. However, exposure to propylene at normal background levels is unlikely to have any adverse effect on human health.

Further Information http://apps.sepa.org.uk/spripa/Pages/SubstanceInformation.aspx?pid=83

Sulphur oxides, SO2 and SO3 as SO2

Sulphur oxides, SO2 and SO3 as SO2 is emitted by both Shell and ExxonMobil. SO2 may be produced naturally from the decay of vegetation and volcanic emissions. SO2 is produced as a by-product from metal smelting, the processing and combustion of coal or oil, the manufacture of sulphuric acid, and other processes such as food preservation, wine making, and bleaching. SO3 is produced from the oxidation of SO2, the manufacture of sulphuric acid, explosives, or from the sulfonation of oils and detergents.

Acute Toxicity: Single exposures to SO2 can cause irritation to the eyes, skin and respiratory system, and dryness of the nose and throat. Symptoms of acute ingestion exposures include watery eyes, burns and ocular damage. Acute inhalation exposures may cause cough, sneezing, watery eyes, impaired breathing, asthma, and chest pain. More severe effects include the ulceration or destruction of respiratory epithelium, systemic acidosis, pulmonary edema or death. Dermal exposures may cause burns or lesions.

The effects of SO3 are similar to those of SO2, except the irritant effects are more significant. SO3 is both irritating and corrosive to mucous membranes. Symptoms of acute ingestion include salivation, thirst, difficulty swallowing, chills, pain and shock. Acute inhalation exposures may cause sneezing, coughing, laryngitis, bleeding and ulceration in the nasal and oral mucosa, chest pain, and respiratory irritation. Dermal exposures may cause dermatitis, burns and pain.

Chronic Toxicity: Long-term effects include asthma, chronic bronchitis and other lung disorders, nervous system disorders, erosion of teeth, menstrual and thyroid disorders, increased severity of existing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and protein and carbohydrate metabolism disorders.

Long-term effects include discolouration and erosion of teeth, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties, chest pain, and pulmonary edema.

Further Information: http://www.hazmatmag.com/news/sulphur-oxides/1000115299/


Toluene is emitted by ExxonMobil. Other possible emitters of toluene are vapours and spilling of petrol, commercial and household painting and paint, varnish and lacquer removal, tobacco smoke, and consumer products containing toluene. These emissions are to the air unless there is a spill. And also can be found in vehicle exhaust.

Inhalation: Can irritate the nose and throat. Can harm the nervous system. Symptoms may include headache, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness and confusion. A severe exposure can cause unconsciousness.

Skin Contact: SKIN IRRITANT. Causes moderate to severe irritation. Symptoms include pain, redness, and swelling.Can be absorbed through the skin. Can cause effects as described for inhalation.

Ingestion: May cause mild irritation.

Effects of Long-Term (Chronic) Exposure: Can cause dry, red, cracked skin (dermatitis) following skin contact. Exposure to this chemical and loud noise may cause greater hearing loss than expected from noise exposure alone. Effects on colour vision have been reported, but the evidence is inconclusive. May harm the nervous system. Conclusions cannot be drawn from the limited studies available. At high concentrations: May harm the kidneys.

Teratogenicity / Embryotoxicity: DEVELOPMENTAL HAZARD. May harm the unborn child based on animal information, and, in some cases, human exposure studies. Has been associated with: low birth weight or size, learning disabilities, hearing loss.

Further Information: http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/chemicals/chem_profiles/toluene.html

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  1. Helen Reid

    June 4, 2013 at 9:55 am

    Quite shocking really! and yet despite the overall high rates of chest infections, asthma, burning skin & sores (on occasion), along with many other ailments, we are repeatedly given the mantra of our ill-health issues being related to ‘life-style choices!’ This covers up any real debate, do they actually mean the life-style choice of living in Lochgelly or Cowdenbeath? The flaring and noise pollution makes me ill also. It is also time for the cumulative impact to be taken into consideration. 25 years and counting, along with the proximity of the dual-carriageway and now the added problem of the wind farms, with more to come. Each has separated itself and provides a separate report brushing away any problems, or even blames one of the others. It wasns’t us, it was them! Sick of the lot of it, literally!


    • Cowdenbeath visitor

      June 7, 2013 at 8:36 pm

      ‘Burning skin and sores’, come on! Isn’t that from the sun?? you are not seriously blaming the Moss for that! Have worked there for more than 25 yrs, never heard such a claim ….


      • Joe

        June 8, 2013 at 8:45 am

        I guess it just depends on what pollutants are being pumped out, and what is in the air when its raining, for example ‘acid rain’ mainly consisting of nitric and sulfuric acids. Any chemicals or pollutants pumped out into the atmosphere has to go somewhere. Rain carries the particles down to the ground.


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