The evidence that the process of hydraulic fracturing is causing health issues continues to mount. After recent reports that fracking may contaminate groundwater with arsenic, a new study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that fracking activities are exposing workers to silica dust, which can cause fatal lung disease. A story on News Inferno reports that eleven fracking sites in five states have exposed workers and possibly area residents to harmful silica.
Hydraulic fracturing is a process of extracting natural gas from deep in the earth by breaking up shale formations. A mixture of sand, water, and chemicals is injected through a high-powered drill to depths about 2 miles underground. The process involves high exposure for workers as silica is heavily distributed into the air. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that half-face respirators traditionally used at these sites provide insufficient protection for workers.
Crystalline silica can enter the lungs’ gas-exchange regions and cause silicosis. Silicosis can usually be identified with a chest x-ray and can cause shortness of breath in early stages. It is also attributed to COPD, respiratory failure, lung cancer, tuberculosis, and kidney or autoimmune disease.
These findings along with previous studies of groundwater contamination provide further evidence that the regulation and oversight has not kept up with this rapidly growing industry, putting workers’ and residents’ health at risk. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to hydraulic fracturing, you should contact a Lopez McHugh attorney for a free consultation.