Monday, August 12, 2013

Stunning Fact: NIOSH Study Finds Fracking Workers Exposed To Silica At Rates Up To 10 Times Safety Limit

Researchers working for the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health published a study with disturbing findings concerning silica levels at drilling sites and workers' exposure.

The NIOSH study took 111 samples at 11 sites in 5 states, including Pennsylvania.  The results find that silica levels at all drilling sites exceeded safe levels and were as much as 10 times the safe level at some locations.  These results should  cause an immediate effort by regulators and companies to sharply reduce silica in the air at drilling sites and warrant more research.  Here is the key NIOSH finding:

"At each of the 11 sites, full-shift samples exceeded occupational health criteria (e.g., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration calculated permissible exposure limit, the NIOSH recommended exposure limit, or the ACGIH threshold limit value), in some cases, by 10 or more times the occupational health criteria. Based on these evaluations, an occupational health hazard was determined to exist for workplace exposures to crystalline silica."


  1. This was my second biggest concern when they were fracking at our place. Not for us, because our exposure was very limited both by time and distance from the pad, but for the workers. It made me wonder what would happen if the guys who do the work were unionized, say under the UMW? I suspect that a lot of concerns about this process from start to finish would be the subject of negotiations. And then of course, there'd also be the economic impacts.

  2. I called OSHA several times and they came twice the past year and found over-the-allowable limits of exposure of workers to silica dust and fined Halliburton and recommended new practices to protect the workers. Workers need to call and will remain anonymous and those living nearby and others can call for the workers.