Online Program

Control of Worker Exposure to Silica in Oil and Gas Extraction

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 9:10 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Barbara Alexander, PhD, PE, Division of Applied Research and Technology, CDC/NIOSH, Cincinnati, OH
Eric Esswein, MSPH CIH, Western States Office, CDC/NIOSH, Denver, CO
Michael Gressel, Division of Applied Research and Technology, CDC/NIOSH, Cincinnati, OH
Jerry Kratzer, Division of Applied Research and Technology, CDC/NIOSH, Cincinnati, OH
H. Amy Feng, MS, Division of Applied Research and Technology, NIOSH, Cincinnati, OH
Bradley King, PhD CIH, Western States Division, CDC/NIOSH, Denver, CO
Arthur Miller, Office Of Mine Safety And Health Research, CDC/NIOSH, Spokane, WA
Emanuele Cauda, Office Of Mine Safety And Health Research, CDC/NIOSH, Pittsburgh, PA
Exposure risks to workers at oil and gas extraction sites include respirable crystalline silica (RCS). Repeated exposure to RCS can cause serious or even fatal diseases, including silicosis and lung cancer. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) researchers have identified concentrations of RCS at hydraulic fracturing sites that can be over 10 times higher than occupational exposure limits. To reduce exposures, the researchers have developed a mini-baghouse assembly prototype, to be mounted on the thief hatches on top of sand movers, one of the largest sources of dust generation. This presentation details the results of a trial of the NIOSH mini-baghouse prototype.

 A bulk sample of the dust collected by the baghouse assembly showed the likely presence of freshly fractured quartz, a particularly hazardous form of RCS. Air samples collected at locations on and around the sand mover were analyzed for respirable dust and RCS.  Results indicate that use of the mini-baghouse effectively reduced both respirable dust and RCS downwind of the thief hatches. Reduction of airborne respirable dust concentrations ranged from 85% to 98%, and reductions in airborne RCS concentrations ranged from 79% to 99%. While the results of this evaluation showed the mini-baghouse prototype effective in reducing respirable dust and silica concentrations, several design enhancements have been made to further improve control effectiveness. As a result, a new prototype design has been developed, which will be evaluated in the near future.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Occupational health and safety
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate the effectiveness of control technology to reduce worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica at oil and gas extraction and production sites

Keyword(s): Occupational Health and Safety, Chemical Exposures & Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: : I have conducted occupational health and safety research for several years, with an emphasis on exposures to hazardous substances. I led the data analysis on this project, and recommended design improvements to the control technology. My research is guided by my previous extensive experience as a chemical engineer in the chemical industry.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.