Gravel mining and other activities that disturb the earth release crystalline silica into the air. There has been a significant amount of research on health hazards associated with fine, airborne dust (often referred to as “fugitive dust”) containing crystalline silica, which could affect the health and well-being of all breathing life in the area. On our page about air quality, we call for more scientific data about potential concentrations of crystalline silica from gravel mining in our specific area. According to OSHA, medical research has linked exposure to crystalline silica with a range of health conditions, including silicosis, a disabling, irreversible, and sometimes fatal lung disease; chronic bronchitis; lung cancer; and kidney disease, including nephritis and end-stage renal disease. This proposed mining operation would take place around areas zoned for residential and agricultural use, with nearby schools downwind. Resolution 98-32, which conditionally approves Boulder County Land Use Docket SU-96-18, states that “If sustained winds exceed 30 MPH at mining sites, loading and hauling operations will cease until the wind speed drops below 30 MPH. Crushing, conveying, and drilling operations may continue. Wind speeds shall be measured at the mine site” (p. 4). Despite these stipulations, many in the community are concerned that frequent and strong wind gusts in the area mean that our children, crops, and livestock would be continually exposed to these particles.
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) page on the health effects of crystalline silica: https://www.osha.gov/dsg/topics/silicacrystalline/health_effects_silica.html
- Center for Disease Control’s Best Practices for Dust Control
in Metal/Nonmetal Mining (https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/UserFiles/works/pdfs/2010-132.pdf) [PDF]. Chapter 1: Health Effects of Overexposure to Respirable Silica Dust.