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Do Frac Sand Plants Contribute to Cleaner Air?


The rapid development of frac sand mining in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and especially Wisconsin has led many people living near mines and processing plants to become concerned about the potential negative impact these facilities could have on local air quality.

One of the primary worries some residents cite is the amount of very fine particle pollutants, measuring 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5), that may be generated from these facilities.

The Institute for Wisconsin's Health Incorporated conducted a health impact assessment on the impact of frac sand mining and found it isn't contributing to hazardous levels of particulate matter, according to the Heartland Institute’s Issac Orr. A new study released by the World Health Organization has found the United States as a whole has decreased its PM2.5 air pollution over the past five years, even as frac sand mining has boomed.

PM2.5 levels have fallen in part because of increasing reliance on natural gas (which is captured as part of the hydraulic fracking process) to generate electricity, Orr said. In this respect, the small, spherical grains of frac sand mined in the Upper Midwest are helping to bring cleaner air to the entire country.

Read Orr’s entire article here.