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  Thursday February 26th, 2015    

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How safe is sand? (04/17/2013)
From: Lynette Power

How safe is sand?

Yes, we have played in the sand all our lives. The sand on the river is not hazardous because it has been washed, but the mined sand is a different story.

The State of California requires a warning label on play sand containing crystalline silica that reads: “California Proposition 65 Warning- This product contains crystalline silica which is known to the State of California to cause cancer and other substances which are known to cause cancer, birth defects and reproductive harm.” This is because much of the play sand found in today’s stores is not natural sand, but actually derived from quarried quartz rocks. Children, who have developing lungs, breathe in crystalline silica dust as they play in the sand. Frequent sandbox play creates continued exposure to this known carcinogen. (safesand.com)

Here is what OSHA says about crystalline silica: Silica, Crystalline Silicosis is a disabling, nonreversible and sometimes fatal lung disease caused by overexposure to respirable crystalline silica. More than one million U.S. workers are exposed to crystalline silica. There is no cure for the disease, but it is 100 percent preventable if employers, workers, and health professionals work together to reduce exposures.

As a ceramic artist, I have been aware for over 30 years of the hazards of breathing silica dust, one of the biggest health hazards of my profession. Silicosis is a disease of the lungs caused by breathing dust containing crystalline silica particles. They are too fine to even be seen. Cleaning the studio and handling glaze materials and grinding the glaze off the bottoms of pots, I wear a mask to protect my lungs because silica dust exposures can cause silicosis. The silica dust causes fibrosis or scar tissue formations in the lungs that reduce the lungs’ ability to work to extract oxygen from the air. There is no cure for this disease, thus prevention is the only answer. Acute silicosis may develop after short periods of exposure. Chronic silicosis usually occurs after five or more years of exposure to lower levels of quartz.

Two washing plants have been permitted in Winona. Where will all the silica silt slurry end up after the holding ponds are full? With last year’s drought, I experienced the horrid dust conditions created by fine silt. Heavy pedestrian and vehicle traffic disturbed the silt deposits brought by flooding of the Minnesota River in Shakopee, Minn. It was nearly white-out conditions on windy days. This fine airborne dust was not pure silica dust, but all dust does contain silica and there were lots of people, including children, exposed and many people were getting sick from these conditions. Let’s think the long term about where the slurry from washing facilities will end up. It has been compared to asbestos; I agree that it is a comparable health hazard.

There are city ordinances against having solar panels, swimming pools, vegetable gardens in our front yards, upholstered furniture on our front porches, and renting to a maximum of two unrelated people, even if you have an eight bedroom house.

Why are we so powerless to protect our neighborhoods from the hundreds of diesel trucks that are being permitted to haul frac sand though school, hospital, and congested business areas; with not even a traffic impact study needed. Where is the air quality monitoring?



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