Sand Mining Craze Stirs Up Health Fears
But fracking companies love the tiny particles
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2012 6:56 PM CDT
Updated May 19, 2012 7:15 AM CDT
Elsie Mae Begay, backdropped by Monument Valley, sifts sand near her home through her hands Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011 in Monument Valley, Utah.   (AP Photo/Matt York)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – The upper Midwest is home to the latest craze in American mining: sand. Mining companies are knocking on doors in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and nearby states to dig up tons of the stuff so oil and gas producers can inject it into the ground in a process known as fracking. Sand mines are creating jobs across the region, but residents leery of the environmental impact are starting to push back, the Wall Street Journal reports.

"This just came out of the blue for everyone," says a Minnesota resident concerned about issues like possible lung disease caused by the tiny particles, polluted groundwater, and rural roads filled with tractor-trailers. In Wisconsin, officials have waffled over the environmental impact while mining companies say the process is safe. But with towns and counties declaring moratoriums, and gas producers cutting back production as prices fall, the sand mining craze may already be slowing down.