How Could OSHA’s New Silica Rules Impact The Natural Gas Industry?
Federal labor officials are proposing new rules to help prevent an old hazard of the trade: diseases caused by breathing in silica dust. Silicosis has long been a plight of workers in construction and manufacturing, but concerns have shifted in recent years to those who toil in the growing natural gas industry.
Sand is an important ingredient in most fracking fluid recipes. It’s mixed with chemicals and water and blasted deep underground where the tiny grains help keep cracks in the shale rock open for all that natural gas to come through.
But before it goes underground, federal health administrators say it can end up in worker’s lungs. Breathing in sand or “crystalline silica” can cause silicosis, a respiratory disease that can also lead to lung cancer, tuberculosis, kidney and autoimmune disease.