Mining Companies Turn Sand to Gold
Mining and energy companies have found a way to turn sand to gold- but at a cost. The process of mining silica sand- or crystalline silica- is very profitable, but the risks are high for workers and communities.
There have been notable advancements in the safety of mining industry workers; but with new technology come new risks. The new technology: hydro-fracking. The risk: deadly lung ailments like Silicosis and lung cancer. Silicosis results from the exposure of high levels of crystalline silica, a carcinogen which is found in soil, sand, granite, and many other minerals (quartz being the most common form.) When it is chipped, blasted, sanded, or grinded by workers, it becomes a fine dust that can be inhaled. Exposure to the lungs can lead to deadly complications.
- “Fracking” is a drilling technology that squeezes natural gas out of rock.
- “Hydro-fracking” or high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing is when drillers inject water and chemicals into rock in order to break it. After the high pressure breaks the rock, sand and other proppants (chemicals) are injected to hold the cracks open so the gas can flow out (HydraulicFracturing.com).
- The crystalline silica is used as the sand component.
- Mining and energy companies collect the crystalline silica sand from sand pits in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and along the Mississippi rivers for crystalline silica to use in hydro-fracking.
Information below provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American Journal of Epidemiology.
- Crystalline silica is a known carcinogen
- A study by the American Journal of Epidemiology indicated a link between high lung cancer rates and industrial sand workers exposed to crystalline silica
- Breathing crystalline silica dust can cause silicosis
- Silicosis occurs when scar tissue forms around the lungs, limiting their ability to take in oxygen
- There is no cure for silicosis
- Silicosis makes victims susceptible to other lung ailments like tuberculosis
Crystalline silica is not just dangerous for workers; it can also affect anyone near the mining sites.
- According to FracDallas.org, an information organization, the particles can be carried by winds more than 20 miles from the site of the mining operation
- These can injure or kill people far removed from the mining area
Contact an Experienced Workplace Accident Attorney
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