Crystalline silica is an important industrial material found abundantly in the earth’s crust. It is a mineral that occurs in several forms. Quartz, the most common form, is a component of sand, stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, and mortar. Many of these materials are used every day across a wide variety of industrial settings, including construction, mining, manufacturing, maritime, and agriculture.
Occupational exposure to crystalline silica often occurs as part of common workplace operations involving cutting, sawing, drilling, and crushing of concrete, brick, block, rock, and stone products (such as in construction work). Operations using sand products (such as glass manufacturing, foundries, and sand blasting) can result in worker inhalation of small (respirable) crystalline silica particles from the air. These types of exposures can lead to the development of disabling and sometimes fatal lung diseases, including silicosis and lung cancer. Processes historically associated with high rates of silicosis include sandblasting, sand-casting foundry operations, mining, tunneling, cement cutting and demolition, masonry work, and granite cutting.
This page offers guidance that may be useful to workers and employees across a number of industries. Resources for general industry and construction are highlighted where appropriate
This Hazard Alert discusses the health hazards associated with hydraulic fracturing and focuses on worker exposures to silica in the air. It covers the health effects of breathing silica, recommends ways to protect workers, and describes how OSHA and NIOSH can help.
This Hazard Alert discusses ways to protect workers from significant crystalline silica exposure during manufacturing, finishing, and installing natural and manufactured stone countertops. The Hazard Alert follows reports of 46 workers in Spain and 25 workers in Israel who developed silicosis as a result of exposure to crystalline silica in their work manufacturing stone countertops.
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