Silica Sand Mining and Health
The recent expansion of silica sand mining in Minnesota is raising concerns about possible health risks. MDH is working to develop public health responses and tools to support citizens and communities as they consider these impacts.
Crystalline silica is a substance of concern for human health. Dust sized silica particles, invisible to the naked eye, are generated during the mining process and can be breathed into the body where they reach deep into the lungs. Once in the lungs, these particles can be coughed up, or pass from the lungs to other organs in the body through the blood stream, or stay stuck in the lungs.
Exposure to silica sand particles from mining is of greatest concern to:
- People who work in the fracking or mining industry. They can be exposed to crystalline silica during the course of their work.
- People living in communities where silica mining operations and processing operations. They can be exposed to crystalline silica sand emitted to the air as a result of general mining activities.
Silica sand mines may also pose some risk to groundwater and surface water, either from chemical releases or changes to the natural water systems.
Addressing Community Concerns: Health Impact Assessment
Community concerns related to general mining activities include increased traffic,noise, and risk of accidents. Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is a process that could lead to a more complete evaluation of all of the risks associated with the frac sand mining process.
State of Minnesota Silica Sand Information
The Minnesota Environmental Quality Board is a resource for coordinating and connecting state agencies that work on issues related to Silica Sand Mining in Minnesota.