According to multiple warnings by workplace safety groups, natural gas workers who are employed in a drilling process known as fracking may be at risk of developing silicosis, lung cancer, or other illnesses. Individuals who live near fracking sites may also be at risk due to the hazardous dust that is created at these drilling sites as a result of silica sand that can become airborne.
What is Fracking?
Hydraulic fracturing is technique used to drill for oil and natural gas deposits located deep under the ground. During the fracking process, large quantities of water and fracking chemicals are pumped into a drilling well. This causes cracks to form in the rock that contains oil or natural gas, causing it to be released into the well. Sand that is pumped into the well helps hold these cracks open, allowing the oil or gas to flow to the surface.
Fracking has become a widespread drilling practice in recent years, allowing oil and gas companies to drill for previously inaccessible oil or natural gas deposits. However, fracking also poses serious health risks for both drilling workers and residents who live nearby these drilling sites. In addition to the health risks associated with exposure to fracking chemicals in contaminated groundwater, the airborne silica sand that can be created at fracking sites poses significant health risks to drilling workers and nearby residents.
Fracking Linked to Serious Respiratory Illnesses
Workers at fracking sites may be at risk of developing serious respiratory illnesses due to the health risks of exposure to airborne silica sand. Inhaling airborne silica sand can cause silicosis, a respiratory disease which causes scarring due to the presence of silica particles in the lungs. Symptoms of silicosis include shortness of breath, fatigue, loss of appetite, chest pain, coughing, and respiratory failure, which may eventually lead to death.
Other diseases that have been linked to silica exposure include lung cancer, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), tuberculosis, scleroderma, and renal disease.
Health agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have created safety standards designed to protect workers from the risks of silica exposure. However, these groups say that many workers at fracking sites and other construction jobs are still at risk of respiratory illnesses caused by silica because they were not provided with proper training and safety equipment.
In most cases, exposure to airborne silica may only cause symptoms of silicosis 20 years or more after exposure has occurred. However, because of the high volumes of silica dust to which fracking workers are sometimes exposed, many have been diagnosed with silicosis or other respiratory diseases in as little as five years after exposure.
Injured by Silica Exposure? Get Help!
Workers or other individuals who have been exposed to silica dust created during the fracking process may be eligible to file a lawsuit and seek compensation for their injuries. Fracking lawsuits that have already been filed allege that workers have not been provided with adequate safety equipment to protect them from the health effects of silica sand exposure in the workplace.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with silicosis or another illness after being exposed to airborne silica sand created at a fracking site, you may wish to speak with a lawyer to find out if you are eligible to file a lawsuit. For a free legal consultation about your case, contact the attorneys at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by following the link to our free case evaluation form on this website.