Date of Award

Summer 2015

Degree Type

Non-Thesis Project

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Industrial Hygiene

Committee Chair

Terry Spear

First Advisor

Julie Hart


This report investigates the potential exposure to respirable crystalline silica experienced by fuel distributing employees on hydraulic fracturing locations. Hydraulic fracturing is an oil and gas technique used to develop shale formations all across the United States of America. This is done by injecting large volumes of water, sand, and treatment chemicals under high pressure into oil wells within the shale formation. This well stimulation is possible due to the high pressure of the fluid, which creates and opens cracks and fissures in the formation. The sand contained inside the fluid flows into these opened fissures and becomes wedged, holding the fissures open after the fluid pressure has been removed. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued warnings of the hazard created by using sand containing crystalline silica. They have reported that 99% of hydraulic fracturing locations have the possibility of being exposed to this hazard. In 2003 NIOSH collected 111 samples at 11 sites in five states evaluating respirable crystalline silica during hydraulic fracturing operations. Only two of the 111 samples were performed on fuel distributing employees on location. The evaluations of these employees showed that fuel distributing employees received an average of dose of 57% compared to the 8 hour time weighted permissible exposure limit and 114% of a 12 hour extended work shift exposure limit set by OSHA. This study is to be used to determine compliance with the OSHA existing PEL the proposed PEL changes and ACGIH TLV. This study collected 10 breathing zone samples from fuel distributing employees on hydraulic fracturing locations on five sites in two states. This report focuses on the shale formation development in Oklahoma and Kansas. Four of the sites were located in Oklahoma and one in Kansas. The results from each sample showed that the exposure does not exceed the exposure limits using the current OSHA PEL limit but was over exposed under the proposed PEL and ACGIH’s TLV. These assessments are adjusted to the occupation exposure limit for extended work shifts typical of the fuel company. It is necessary for the company to provide a safe work environment free of known hazards, and limiting the hazards within the exposure limits set by the national government. With new limits and the research that documents old standards do not adequately protected employees, the company should provide safeguards for its employees.


A report submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science Industrial Hygiene