Biological effects of inhaled hydraulic fracturing sand dust. I. Scope of the investigation
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Biological effects of inhaled hydraulic fracturing sand dust. I. Scope of the investigation

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    • Alternative Title:
      Toxicol Appl Pharmacol
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      Hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") is a process in which subterranean natural gas-laden rock is fractured under pressure to enhance retrieval of gas. Sand (a "proppant") is present in the fracking fluid pumped down the well bore to stabilize the fissures and facilitate gas flow. The manipulation of sand at the well site creates respirable dust (fracking sand dust, FSD) to which workers are exposed. Because workplace exposures to FSD have exceeded exposure limits set by OSHA, a physico-chemical characterization of FSD along with comprehensive investigations of the potential early adverse effects of FSDs on organ function and biomarkers has been conducted using a rat model and related in vivo and in vitro experiments involving the respiratory, cardiovascular, immune systems, kidney and brain. An undercurrent theme of the overall hazard identification study was, to what degree do the health effects of inhaled FSD resemble those previously observed after crystalline silica dust inhalation? In short-term studies, FSD was found to be less bioactive than MIN-U-SILĀ® 5 in the lungs. A second theme was, are the biological effects of FSD restricted to the lungs? Bioactivity of FSD was observed in all examined organ systems. Our findings indicate that, in many respects, the physical and chemical properties, and the short-term biological effects, of the FSDs share many similarities as a group but have little in common with crystalline silica dust.
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