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Fracturing Dust Inhaled by Workers Tied to Fatal Lung Disease

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News Inferno; August 12, 2013

A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study has found that workers at some hydraulic fracturing (fracking) sites are being exposed to high levels of dangerous silica, which can lead to a serious lung disease.

The worker are from 11 fracking sites in five states have been exposed to high levels of dust that includes silica, according to the Center for Effective Government, the International Business Times (IBT) reported.

We’ve written that NIOSH and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) expressed concerns over the effects of silica on workers in the fracking industry. There are also significant concerns that this hazard extends to area residents.

Fracking uses a cocktail of fresh water, sand, and more than 500 chemicals that, with the use of a high-powered drill, are injected into the ground through a long, horizontal well. The purpose is to reach a shale formation that is typically about two miles below the earth’s surface. During fracking, the one major additive to fracking water is sand—silica—which is used to open small fissures in the previously tight shale formations. Sand accounts for nearly 10 percent of the mixture and fracking sand contains about 99 percent silica. In any given drilling site, upwards of three-four million pounds of silica are used.

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