New research study concludes that sand mining does not pose threat to health or environment

Kerry Clines

April 4, 2017

The Heartland Institute reports that its new research study, the Heartland Policy Study, concludes that industrial sand mining operations do not pose a threat to human health or the environment. The study, which was co-authored by Isaac Orr, Heartland Research Fellow, and Mark Krumenacher, a senior principal of GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc., examined the best available scientific data on the effects of industrial sand mining on air quality in order to address people’s concerns about its potential impacts. Those concerns are addressed in the final paper in a six-part series addressing frac sand mining.

  • Part 1 addresses particulate matter — especially “respirable crystalline silica — and its health implications.
  • Part 2 presents the findings of several air quality monitoring studies using equipment and sampling methodologies approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and other federal agencies.
  • Part 3 explains the limitations of less scientifically legitimate reports that attempt to quantify concentrations of particulate matter in areas near industrial sand operations. While these reports have generated significant interest among mining opponents, the use of inadequate sampling equipment and non-EPA-approved sampling procedures render the data irrelevant and of no use in assessing the health impact of these facilities.
  • Part 4 examines why industrial sand mining does not generate significant quantities of respirable crystalline silica dust and presents the findings of a study examining the fine-grained material between the sand grains, some of which may act as a cement to hold the sand grains together, providing additional insight into the source and composition of potential dust at industrial sand mines.
  • Part 5 offers the following concluding remarks from Orr and Krumenacher:

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This Policy Study examined the best available scientific data collected by state agencies and nationally respected air monitoring scientists using EPA-certified equipment and sampling methodologies. Each of these studies has found industrial sand facilities do not contribute hazardous levels of respirable crystalline silica or particulate matter (PM) pollution, and therefore do not pose a threat to human health or the environment.

Non-scientific studies using uncertified equipment and flawed methods have served only to create confusion regarding the effect of industrial sand facilities on the environment. Those reports have made people unnecessarily anxious and fearful about the effect these facilities may have on their families, their health, and their home values. It is our hope that this Policy Studywill alleviate some of those fears.

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