Silica Exposure Risk
Federal officials have issued a hazard alert aimed at protecting workers at hydraulic fracturing operations from silica exposure. Hydraulic fracturing involves blasting rock with water, sand and chemicals to extract oil and natural gas. Crystalline silica is part of sand. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health say workers who regularly breathe it are at greater risk of developing silicosis.
They say silica also is linked to lung cancer and tuberculosis. A hazard alert they issued Thursday describes how engineering controls, work practices, protective equipment, worker training and product substitution can protect employees. OSHA released statements from officials with the Association of Energy Service Companies and the AFL-CIO saying they support efforts to raise awareness of the hazard.