silica

The U.S. Department of Labor announced a new rule this week that aims to better protect workers from something called silica dust. It replaces standards that were more than 40 years old.

Silica is found in materials like sand, granite, and concrete. Breathing in too much of the dust that results from working with these materials can cause a lung disease called Silicosis and lung cancer.

The Department of Labor estimates that around 2.3 million workers like sandblasters and brick makers are exposed to silica at work.

A study by the National Institute of Occupational Safety found that workers involved with hydraulic fracturing are often exposed to dangerously high levels of silica.

Silica sand is used in fracking fluid, and breathing dust from the material can cause lung diseases and cancer.

The sites that were monitored for the study were all outside Wyoming, but John Robitaille with the Petroleum Association of Wyoming says companies here still need to take the matter seriously.