Misleading Statements

MISLEADING STATEMENTS MADE BY FRAC SAND MINING COMPANIES “We only want whole grains of sand, so we won’t be fracturing the sand grains.”

Truth: The sand in sandstone formations is not present as 100% “whole grain”, pre-washed sand. There is a cement holding the grains together, and this is mostly composed of crystalline silica particles. There may also be non-silica and other particulate contaminants present in the sandstone. Blasting is needed to break up the cemented sandstone, and this will produce and release silica dust.

Dust can also be released during truck loading, transporting, stockpiling, crushing and conveying. While washing removes much of the silica dust, and other contaminants, if the sand is transported before it is washed, then silica dust will have more opportunities to escape during transport. Thus far, mining companies are not consistently covering their trucks during transport.

“The sand we want is just like sand at the beach, round and smooth.”

Truth: This is true. However, beach sand is ALWAYS wet and the finer particles are washed out of it. The sandstone to be mined will have some moisture, but this will be variable depending upon rainfall and drought levels. The breathable sizes will not be washed out of the mined material until much later in processing. Mining companies need to spray water over fugitive dust sources to “keep the dust down” but it is not certain that this misting of freshly mined sand will restrain the smallest particles of silica dust.


  1. S. Kyle Putman says:

    Silicosis has been widely studied in sandblasting, hard rock and concrete drilling, glass making etc… But have there been any studies done or planned with regards to this type of sand mining? While the mineral is the same as the other sands that have been studied the geology and shape of sand is different. That is why it is mined here. So what is the actual binding agent holding the sand particles together? Is there broken silica particles smaller than 10 microns (respirable crystalline silica) in the binding agent? If so what percentage, are these particles released and how much? In blasting and the causing of the sand stone is the silica sand fractured (creating respirable crystalline silica)? I think these questions need to be answered through scientific research, and if there are problems with respirable crystalline silica are there operational practices, or management practices that can mitigate this. If these studies have been done here can you please direct me to the research. If not, the research needed to be done prior to starting mining, but it is too late for that now but it still needs to be done I think.

  2. To say beach sand is always wet is a very bold statement to make. I would have to disagree with that statement, what is the moisture content of the sand located on the outer edges of the beach? It would be very interesting to see an actual study done about risk of developing silicosis at a public beach. Not just some person’s opinion of the moisture content. Also, I see no source of any kind for any of the above information.

    • I would have to agree with you that beach sand is not always wet, but in its lifetime it has been, and the waves and rain have rolled it around, knocked off and washed away the crystalline silica dust that we are concerned about. What we are looking at here is freshly broken material that has been deep underground. Beach sand is nothing to worry about.

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