Warning! The Frac Sand in Your Neighborhood Could Be Affecting Your Health

Should You Be Worried About Frac Sand Operations in Your Back Yard?

What Does Sand Have to do With Fracking?

Fracking or hydraulic fracturing is a process in which oil or natural gas is released from rocks deep below the surface of the Earth. The rock is cracked or fractured using a mixture of water, chemicals and sand. The fractures are then held open with a proppant made of sand, so the oil or gas can flow up to the surface.

Fracking uses a lot of sand. A shale gas wells can use more than 4 million pounds of proppant sand.  This means that nearly 95 billion pounds of frac sand will be put into wells this year. Where does this sand come from?

The Fracking Boom is a Frac Sand Boom

Frac sand is a critical component in the process of natural gas drilling. As hydraulic fracturing operations expand, the demand for the high-silica sand has grown. Most of this sand has been mined in Wisconsin and Minnesota. These states have a total of 164 active mines. Twenty more mines are proposed. However, this may not be enough to satisfy the fracking industry’s needs.  Rising demand means that sand companies are considering expanding operations into other states, including Pennsylvania.

What’s the Danger?

Crispin Pierce, a professor of environmental health at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, studies the potential health impact of frac sand. According to Dr. Pierce, one danger of frac sand mining is exposure to the fine dust that is generated from the blasting, mining, transporting and processing of frac sand and waste sand. The biggest danger in the dust comes from respirable crystalline silica. Crystalline silica is a common component of frac sand that has been linked to lung cancer, tuberculosis, and kidney disease. Crystalline silica also causes silicosis, irreversible scarring of the lungs.  Other components of frac sand dust can cause respiratory symptoms, including difficulty breathing, coughing, irritation of airways, decreased lung function, asthma, and chronic bronchitis. The fine dust has also been linked to irregular heartbeat, non-fatal heart attacks, and premature death in people with heart or lung conditions.

Silica is a Known Danger on Fracking Sites

A recent NIOSH study found that silica levels at fracking sites almost always exceeds federal safety limits. This puts fracking workers at risk of developing silicosis and other occupational illnesses. You can learn more in our article, Silicosis: The Hidden Danger of Frac Sand.

Do I Need to Worry?

Currently, frac sand is not mined in Pennsylvania. However, sand companies are considering expanding operations into Bedford and Blair Counties.

The fact that there are no mining operations does not guarantee that all Pennsylvanians are safe from the dangers of fracking sand. Each day, trucks full of sand follow designated routes to Pennsylvania fracking sites. These trucks release dust which can cause respiratory problems to those who are exposed. However, the biggest danger is to workers. Day-after-day exposure to frac sand puts workers at the highest risk for frac sand silicosis and related diseases.

Call Us.

Ostroff Law would like to hear from fracking worker and others who have been diagnosed with silicosis, tuberculosis, lung cancer or other respiratory illness after exposure to frac sand. Call us at 855-880-6667; we’ll let you know if you could be eligible for monetary compensation. The consultation is free.