Winona will be the first U.S. city to monitor pollution from trucks hauling frac sand en route to fracking operations.

By Zahra Hirji

A college town in southern Minnesota is taking action against the frac sand industry that's booming amid America's drilling revolution.

Winona, Minn. will become the first local government in the nation to monitor air pollution that may be escaping from mounds of sand being trucked through town for delivery to fracking fields in North Dakota and elsewhere.

The move puts the city of 28,000 people at the forefront of initial efforts to address the health effects of silica sand, an ingredient used in fracking that has been linked to lung disease. It is part of a larger trend to understand the various impacts of natural gas and oil development on communities.

The data Winona collects will be used to determine if the city is within pollution standards set by the federal and state government, and it could help other towns build a case for monitoring frac sand pollution.

"This is not a specific city's problem—it's a regional problem," said Jim Gurley, co-founder of the Winona-based grassroots group Citizens Against Silica Mining.

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