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New Air-Quality Study ‘Demonstrates Gross Incompetence’

Eight students and a professor from University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire recently published their research on air quality near frac sand sites in a peer-reviewed journal called, Environmental Health. Professor Crispin Pierce said the results show air-quality levels to be worse than those set by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Pierce said air monitors were placed near four frac sand sites, including plants in Winona, Minn., and New Auburn, Wis.

The study was funded with $65,000 raised by local anti-frac-sand activists.

According to Isaac Orr, a research fellow for energy and environment policy at The Heartland Institute, the study is so poorly designed it has no value for furthering our understanding of the impact of frac sand facilities on air quality. In fact, it reflects poorly on the university.

Researchers used the wrong air sampling equipment and improper sampling methodologies, he said. None of the air sampling equipment used in the study was certified by EPA, meaning it cannot accurately quantify PM2.5.

The study also did not have both upwind and downwind measurements, which are important for any air monitoring exercise because upwind and downwind monitoring acts like “before and after” pictures, similar to the ones you see might see at the gym, he added.

“For so-called scientists to make such an irresponsible claim when many others have collected data actually using proper methods and equipment demonstrates gross incompetence, and this failure has serious, negative consequences for everyone,” Orr wrote.