Sand Mining-Air Quality Research Seeking Your Assistance!

fracking-sand_wide.jpgDonations to support this research can be made online at In the gift designation area write: Applied Environmental Health Research Fund

The issue of "frac" sand mining in Western Wisconsin is virtually assured of making the nightly news in one community or another. One of the fundamental responsibilities of a public university is to seek knowledge for the public good. Another is to engage students in service-related to issues that impact the community in which they live. A University ofWisconsin-Eau Claire faculty member and his students are at the leading edge of a research project to study the potential impact of frac sand mining on the quality of the air we breathe every day. And they need your help!

Particulate matter (PM), including silica dust, is released into the air during the mining, blasting, crushing, processing and transporting processes employed by industrial sand mining companies. Some portion of this dust may remain suspended in the air for long periods of time and can travel many miles.

When airborne silica dust is in the form of small enough particles and at dangerous levels, it causes diseases that take 10-20 years to develop, and by then are impossible to cure.

The current WI Department of Natural Resources approach is to require industrial sand mines to monitor the air at some sand mining sites for larger particles in the PM10 size range (other sites have been given waivers and have no monitoring). However, this standard does not accurately measure the PM2.5 size range that can be inhaled deep into the lungs where they can cause damage.

Since 2009, Dr. Crispin Pierce, associate professor of environmental public health, and 20 of his students have been monitoring the air quality in the region with a focus on locations where industrial sand mining operations are occurring. They have been working independently and recently with other researchers in the Midwest to study the amount of airborne dust including silica in these areas. However, their research has been limited because of the monitoring instruments available to them.

To provide the greatest validity and objectivity to this research, and to extend the coverage of their monitoring effort, Dr. Pierce and his students need air monitors that meet federally sanctioned standards in measuring the amount of both PMlO and PM2.5 in ambient air. These monitors are critical to creating an important database to help guide public policy on this issue. It also should help answer a fundamental question, "Is our air safe to breathe?"

Working through the UW-Eau Claire Watershed Institute for Collaborative Environmental Studies, Dr. Pierce and the Institute have established a research fund with the UW-Eau Claire Foundation that can accept private gifts to support the purchase of the sanctioned air monitors. We need YOUR HELP in generating the necessary funds to purchase these particle monitors and we hope that you will take this opportunity to BECOME INVOLVED in the scientific enterprise to monitor the quality of the air we breathe.

These monitors and associated supplies cost $20,000, which is the goal of this solicitation. The monitors will be used to accurately measure the concentrations of particles, including silica, around frac sand facilities. Results will be shared with the public, DNR, industry and the scientific community.

Donations in any amount will be gratefully accepted. All donations are tax deductible (within legal limitations) and the UW-Eau Claire Foundation will provide receipts. If your employer matches charitable gifts, consider applying for employer matching gift funds to double (or even triple) the impact of your gift.

Give immediately online at In the gift designation area write: Applied Environmental Health Research Fund

If you give by check, make the check payable to UW~Eau Claire Foundation and in the memo line or accompanying documentation, write Applied Environmental Health Research Fund. Mail the check to the UW~Eau Claire Foundation, Box 4004, Eau Claire, WI 54702~4004.

Make a pledge. You can give this year and also pledge to give again early in the first quarter of next year. Simply include in your gift to the Foundation that you wish to pledge a similar (or larger) gift to be completed before May 1, 2014. The Foundation will send you a pledge reminder.

This fund drive will run from December 1. 2013 to Mav 31. 2014. All donations will be used to support the research of Dr. Pierce and his students as it relates to air quality monitoring measurements.

To maximize the benefit for Dr. Pierce's work with undergraduate students for the second semester, please consider making a donation before January 31, 2014.

Donors will receive quarterly progress reports this vital research projects. In addition you will be invited to join Dr. Pierce and his students for research updates on the UW-Eau Claire campus. If you have questions about Dr. Pierce's work, please go to the Watershed Institute website at You also can contact Dr. Pierce at 715-836-5589 or [email protected] Thank you for your consideration.

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  • Karen Edson
    commented 2013-12-17 08:59:39 -0600
    Dr. Pierce and his students do valuable work in building a scientific body of evidence about the health effects of ambient silica dust. This is something that has no current body of data and, as a result, lacks standing in the regulatory community. HELP DR. PIERCE!