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Silica exposure during hydraulic fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is a gas extraction process that has been the focus of much media attention over the last couple of years – mostly due to its highly visible environmental effects.

What has not been given the same level of attention, however, is the impact that the process has on the health of employees working on these sites – specifically those exposed to crystalline silica.

As a result of the increased fracking activity being carried out in the last decade, the next 10 to 20 years may see an increase in the onset rates of silicosis – a disease that has devastating consequences and is incurable. Anyone who has been exposed to crystalline silica (even in relatively small amounts) can develop silicosis, often years after initial exposure. As you will read in this whitepaper, studies have shown that on many fracking sites, the current controls that are in place are ineffective, and silica exposure levels are dangerously high.

The good news, however, is that with the right controls in place, silicosis is completely preventable.

Read this paper by Industrial Hygiene expert Rachel Williams and learn:

  • How these exposures occur.
  • The seven primary sources of silica exposure (as well as where employees are most at risk).
  • Why respiratory protection should be the last resort.
  • How OSHA have proposed to deal with this critical problem.

About the Author

Rachel Williams, CIH

Rachel Williams has been a Client Service Consultant for the Medgate team since June 2013. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2003 and Master of Science in Industrial Hygiene in 2005 from West Virginia University. She is a Certified Industrial Hygienist by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene. Rachel has over eight years of experience in the field of Industrial Hygiene and Safety.

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