Public Lab Research note

Frac Sand in 10 minutes

by mathew | October 22, 2014 00:33 22 Oct 00:33 | #11290 | #11290

mathew was awarded the Watchdog Barnstar by amysoyka for their work in this research note.

photo credit: Crispin Pierce PhD

What I want to do

I made a 10 minute video introducing what frac sand is, where it's found, and the environmental and health concerns related to its extraction. Part 1 of 2. The second video will be on monitoring.

My attempt and results


My slides

previous research notes:

OSHA/NIOSH frac sand hazard alert

USGS Groundwater Atlas

Wikimedia Commons

Iowa Policy Project Digging Deeper into Frac Sand Mining

Pat Poppel, Concerned Chippewa Citizen

Mikey O’Connor, Frac Sand Frisbee

Crispin Pierce, UW Eau Claire

SandPoint Times

Wisconsin Watch

Midwest Energy News

Fact citations

140 mines and facilities in WI....

Water used in processing

Rough Script: fracsandscript.rtf

Questions and next steps

stay tuned-- in two weeks I'll post a video on understanding silica dust monitoring.


Great talk. You've done a great job at making this video informative - so U awarded you a watchdog barn star

Anyhow, cutting to the chase. The issues that you are talking about are the same across the entire mining industry, no matter what the substance being mined is.

You might appreciate doing this short intro course on mining engineering. ( I have done so & it outlines quite well how mines should operate. I perfonally found it helpful in identifying the differences between how mining should be, when done safely and to a certain standard, vs how it actually, very often, usually is.

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Amazing presentation @Mathew ! I learned so much. The graphics and maps are great too.

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Thanks! @amysoyka that's an interesting idea. I haven't ever studied mines specifically, just basic geology. You're right though-- the issues of where the overburden and tailings go, primary and fugitive pollution are universal to mining.

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Great work, Matthew, and great job leading dusthack in Menomonie. I'm concerned that the chair of the geology dept. at UW-Eau Claire is claiming that the dust is mostly limestone, and harmless.

I was able to give a demonstration to one county that there was not limestone in local sandstone, by crumbling the sandstone in a jar, then pulverizing some calcium carbonate in another jar, and pouring a strong acid on both. Sort of like my first science fair volcano w. baking soda and vinegar. The calcium carbonate foamed spectacularly. The acid sat on the sand I crumbled in front of them as if it was water. (Note-I identified the test liquid as a strong acid, which it certainly was, but I didn't specifically identify it as toilet bowl cleaner. Toilet bowl cleaner gets no respect, even if it cleans off rust.)

Second, water is a major issue. I add a photo of water coming out of a mine's settling pond. Photo taken Oct. 6 '14. [Wastewater_pours_from_frac_sand_mine.JPG]

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I am concerned about sub 2.5 micron particles of silica, particles the size of nanoparticles or close to it. Here's a reference to nanotech exposure research-routes of exposure varied.

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I'm pretty worried about those particles too. I think we would need an electron microscope to measure them though-- that's a pretty big barrier to entry. that said-- I'm working on a lead for accessing one.

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Markdown stray related concern: I remember reading-sorry I can't remember the source-that some pharmaceutical companies were attaching the pharma molecules to nano-silica particles in order to get oral medicines from the gut to the bloodstream. Silica isn't listed as an ingredient because it's considered inert.

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