USC Environmental Health Centers

Current news, events and research projects of the Environmental Health Centers based at USC


Flaring is the burning off of excess natural gas at production sites.  Flaring is used during the exploration, production and processing of fossil fuels, and it is common in oil-producing regions. Air quality monitoring studies have indicated that flares — which often operate continuously for days or weeks — release a variety of hazardous air pollutants that may be harmful to human health. 

Using satellite data to identify flares, you can search by County or zip code below to estimate local flaring activity. 

Source: VIIRS Nightfire, Colorado School of Mines.


VIIRS Nightfire algorithm

Elvidge, C.D.; Zhizhin, M.; Hsu, F.-C.; Baugh, K.E. VIIRS Nightfire: Satellite Pyrometry at Night. Remote Sens. 2013, 5, 4423-4449.

Elvidge, C.D.; Zhizhin, M.; Baugh, K.; Hsu, F.-C.; Ghosh, T. Methods for Global Survey of Natural Gas Flaring from Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite Data. Energies 2016, 9, 14.

Our publications

Franklin M.; Chau K.; Cushing L.J.; Johnston J.E. Characterizing Flaring from Unconventional Oil and Gas Operations in South Texas Using Satellite Observations. Environ Sci Technol. 2019, 53(4), 2220-2228.

Johnston J.E.; Chau K.; Franklin M.; Cushing L.J. Environmental Justice Dimensions of Oil and Gas Flaring in South Texas: Disproportionate Exposure among Hispanic communities. Environ Sci Technol. 2020, 54(10), 6289-6298.

Cushing L.J.; Vavra-Musser K.; Chau K.; Franklin M.; Johnston J.E. Flaring from Unconventional Oil and Gas Development and Birth Outcomes in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas. Environ Health Persp. 2020, 128(7), 077003.

Cushing L.J.; Chau K.; Franklin M.; Johnston J.E. Up in smoke: characterizing the population exposed to flaring from unconventional oil and gas development in the contiguous US. Environmental Research Letters. 2021, 16, 034032.

USC Environmental Health Centers
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