Researchers have known that vast amounts of fracking sand are needed during the natural gas extraction process, and unfortunately, this sand contains fine silica that can easily be breathed in and absorbed into the lungs. Exposure to this material has been known to cause incurable silicosis and, in some cases, even lung cancer. Knowing this danger, researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) decided to find out just how hazardous the fracking industry is to its workers.
NIOSH experts found that while air respirators were being used to avoid inhalation of silica, the levels of the material in the air exceeded the NIOSH recommended amount in 79 percent of samples. The silica levels were so high, in fact, that traditional respirators would not provide enough protection for those working around the fracking site. Experts in workplace safety say that about half of the air quality results even exceed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s standards.
Far too often, people only consider workplace accidents when thinking of workers’ compensation. Even worse, regulators sometimes overlook problems, such as silica inhalation, that cause future harm rather than immediate injury. Becoming ill due to environmental contaminants, however, may still be grounds to receive benefits. A workers’ compensation attorney may be able to expedite the workers’ compensation claim and ensure a fair settlement. Without an attorney, a sick worker will often face insurers on his or her own.