"Gas Workers Risk Silica Exposure"

"WHEELING - Breathing only a tiny amount of silica dust per day - enough, roughly, to cover Franklin Delano Roosevelt's nose on a dime - can put a worker at risk for myriad health problems, according to Michael Breitenstein of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Research by his agency, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows many workers at natural gas wells where hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, takes place are being exposed to the substance in much higher quantities. And according to West Virginia University professor Michael McCawley, the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania - at the heart of Marcellus Shale gas development - are seeing some of the nation's highest rates of mortality due to silicosis, a disease that hardens the lungs through inflammation and development of scar tissue.

Breitenstein's and McCawley's presentations were part of a panel discussion on silica exposure at the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association's inaugural ShaleSafe Conference and Expo at Oglebay Park in Wheeling."

Ian Hicks reports for the Wheeling News-Register April 10, 2014.

Friday, April 11, 2014