Silica, Sand - Activists Butcher Science Trying To Fearmonger Natural Gas

By ACSH Staff — Oct 22, 2015
No, going to the beach will not give you silicosis, no matter what Friends of the Earth gets wrong about science this week.

The anti-science activist group Friends of the Earth gets laughed at all of the time by scientists - but now even mainstream media is ridiculing them.

Their latest effort to promote fear and doubt, and raise some money along the way, is claiming that sand used in hydraulic fracturing - "fracking" - causes cancer.

"We understand that Cuadrilla used a significant amount of sand to frack the well at Preese Hall [in Lancashire in 2011]. Frack sand tends to contain significant amounts of silica which is a known carcinogen," they wrote in a leaflet trying to get fracking banned. And then [Cuadrilla] has used polyacrylamide, which contains acrylamide, a probable carcinogen, and it uses hydraulic fracturing sand, which tends to contain significant amounts of silica. Silica is a known carcinogen.

We see these sorts of spurious claims all of the time about food, Yogic flying instructors, lobbyists at groups like US Right To Know, and Dr. Oz confuse trace amounts of a natural chemical with harmful results because they don't understand dosage. Yet it takes a special lack of knowledge to claim that sand used in fracking to force trapped gas or oil into a well is causing cancer - because everyone who knows science knows that silica dust linked to silicosis, a lung disease, is 50 times smaller than the grains of sand used in fracking. And while polyacrylamide is widely used in all kinds of applications (like contact lens solution) it can't release reduce to acrylamide in fracking - it takes blast furnace heat to accomplish that.

Basically, Friends of the Earth is claiming a visit to the beach will give you cancer.

Leave it to environmentalists to suggest we would be safer if we paved over our beaches.