Frac sand is an essential component in the fracking process; it is combined with large quantities of water and toxic chemicals, which are injected underground at high pressure to crack dense rock and release oil and gas. The sand holds open the fractures to allow the oil and gas and escape. Typically, two to five million pounds of frac sand — enough to fill approximately 25 railcars — is needed to fill a single well.
Mining, processing and transporting frac sand generates and spreads dusty particulate matter and crystalline silica, a known human carcinogen. These pollutants can exacerbate or cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems. Furthermore, mining silica frac sand disrupts landscapes and can pollute the air and nearby freshwater sources. A whole new industry is taking off to mine this sand from communities, and many people in its path rightfully fear that frac sand mining will damage the environment, their communities and their health.