It seems you can’t go a day without reading or hearing something about hydrofracking– at least here in the Northeast. This is one of those polarizing subjects that has no middle ground. You are either for it or against it.
Right now the people against it have concerns for the potential of hydrofracking to contaminate drinking water wells and their aquifers. Currently there is not much of a focus on the potential health effects on the workers who are involved in the actual hydrofracking operations. This will change as we gather more and more information and government agencies step in to protect the employees.
NIOSH is making an attempt to gather this information. The NIOSH Field Effort to Characterize Chemical Exposures in Oil and Gas Extraction Workers was created for this task. Pretty fancy name don’t you think?
The aim of the task force was to identify, characterize, and CONTROL chemical exposures to workers in the hydrofracking business. The information was gathered in 2010 and 2011 at 11 different hydrofracking sites in five states. The data was presented in April of this year and identified the following potential chemical exposures to workers involved in hydrofracking operations:
Silica – I blogged about this hazard earlier this year
Diesel particulate – this is even more important now that is classified as a human carcinogen
BTEX – benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylenes
Aldehydes – used as biocides
Heavy metals – such as lead
As you can see, working in the hydrofracking business has the potential for exposure to a wide variety of airborne chemicals. You can view the full presentation on the Institute of Medicine website at http://bit.ly/frackingpresentation.
If anyone is interested, Galson can provide equipment to collect samples and the analysis of the samples for any of the listed chemicals. In the near future, we will be looking into creating a Kit, similar to our LEED Kit and MSHA Self Compliance Kit, which can be easily used to collect for all or any of the listed chemicals. If you have ever used one of our kits, you know how easy and complete they are to use. So stay tuned.
Categories: Ed Stuber