Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Public Health

Major Professor

Raymond D. Harbison, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Giffe T. Johnson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Thomas Truncale, D.O., M.P.H.

Committee Member

Nicholas Hall, Ph.D.


proppant, unconventional gas, horizontal drilling, spirometry, NHANES III, carbo ceramic


Workers involved in hydraulic fracking processes are exposed to various types of chemicals and dusts in their workplaces, such as proppants, which hold open the fissures created in the fracking process. Recently, ceramic proppants have been developed that may be less hazardous to workers than traditional proppants. Pulmonary function testing of workers producing ceramic proppant was used to assess the potential inhalation hazards of ceramic proppant. Male workers (n = 100) from a producer of ceramic proppant were evaluated with pulmonary function test data collected and evaluated using The American Thoracic Society (ATS) acceptability criteria. A comparison group was selected from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) spirometry laboratory subset. No pulmonary function deficits were found in the worker group in comparison to the NHANES III population. Multiple linear regression analysis showed that the mean FEV1 and FVC values in workers were 0.11 and 0.08 liters respectively, and were greater as compared to the NHANES III population. Curiously, an FEV1/FVC ratio of less than 0.8, when compared to the NHANES III group, produced an odds ratio of 0.44 in worker group, indicating less risk of preclinical pulmonary dysfunction. Overall, exposure to ceramic proppant was not found to produce an adverse impact on pulmonary function in workers engaged in the manufacture of ceramic proppant.