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Recognizing potential hazards is key in preventing and minimizing the effects of silica exposure. Silicosis is a disabling, nonreversible and sometimes fatal lung disease caused by overexposure to respirable crystalline silica. The following references aid in recognizing crystalline silica hazards and health effects.

General Resources
  • "Crystalline Silica Exposure" Health Hazard Information for General Industry Employees. OSHA Publication 3176, (2002). A Spanish version is also available. Discusses what silica is, what are its hazards, and what employers and employees can do to protect against exposures to silica.
  • Crystalline Silica Exposure Health Hazard Information [52 KB PDF*, 2 pages]. OSHA Fact Sheet, (2002) A Spanish version [75 KB PDF*, 2 pages] is also available. Provides information regarding silicosis disease and exposures.
  • Silica. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Safety and Health Topic. Provides information about silica as well as links to related publications and references.
  • Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 75-120, (1974). Contains information on health effects, environmental data, work practices, and development of the crystalline silica standard.
  • Crystalline Silica Primer [99 KB PDF*, 29 pages]. US Department of the Interior, US Bureau of Mines, Branch of Industrial Minerals, (1992). Provides a good starting point for anyone wanting to learn about crystalline silica. Includes information on silica and other pertinent regulatory information.
  • OSHA NIOSH Hazard Alert: Worker Exposure to Silica during Countertop Manufacturing, Finishing and Installation. 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.
  • OSHA NIOSH Hazard Alert: Worker Exposure to Silica During Hydraulic Fracturing - PDF*. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2012-166, (2012). 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.
  • Hazard Alert: Silica in Abrasive Blasting and Rock Drilling Center for Construction Research & Training (CPWR). Hazard alert covering silica dangers in abrasive blasting and rock drilling. Covers the use of wet drilling methods and the use of masks to protect workers from inhaling silica particles.
  • State-based Silicosis Surveillance US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Web page containing information on silicosis surveillance programs in states where data is collected, including Michigan, New Jersey, California, and New York. Also provides NIOSH guidelines on silicosis surveillance for state health departments.
  • Occupational Health Indicators Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE). Indicators describe the occupational health status of the working population and provide data from 28 states and, where available, the United States. The data are from 2000 through 2008. See specifically Indicator #9: Pneumoconiosis hospitalizations and Indicator #10: Pneumoconiosis mortality.
Resources for the Construction Industry
  • Crystalline Silica Exposure Card for Construction. OSHA, (2002). A Spanish version is also available. Discusses what silica is, what are its hazards, and what employers and employees can do to protect against exposures to silica.
  • Crystalline Silica Exposure in the Construction Industry. OSHA. Also available as a 55 KB PDF*, 2 pages.
  • "Crystalline Silica Exposure" Health Hazard Information for Construction Employees. OSHA Publication 3177, (2002). Also available as a 38 KB PDF*, 2 pages and a 42 KB PDF* (Spanish version). Discusses what silica is, what are its hazards, and what employers and employees can do to protect against exposures to silica.
  • Crystalline Silica Exposures in Construction. OSHA (Ellen I. Roznowski), (1997, July). Includes case studies and OSHA enforcement data.
  • Silicosis: Learn the Facts. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2004-108, (2004). Contains information on silica dust, silicosis disease, its symptoms, protective measures and which respirators to use.
  • Silicosis in Sandblasters: A Case Study Adapted for Use in U.S. High Schools. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2002-105, (2002, June). Provides a case study developed for use in teaching epidemiology to high school students. Includes basic information about the disease silicosis, potential routes of exposure to silica, and controls.
  • Control of Hazardous Dust during Tuckpointing. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2008-126, (2008, September).
  • Preventing Silicosis and Deaths in Construction Workers. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 96-112, (1996). Contains information on crystalline silica, silicosis disease, exposure limits, case studies, and examples of exposures at construction sites.
  • Preventing Silicosis and Deaths from Sandblasting. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 92-102, (1992, August). Contains silica hazard information for abrasive blasting.
  • Preventing Silicosis and Death in Rock Drillers. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 92-107, (1992, August). Contains silica hazard information for rock drillers.
  • Prevention of Silicosis Deaths. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 93-124, (1993). Describes silica hazards in sandblasting operations.
  • Hazard Alert: Silica - PDF* Center for Construction Research & Training (CPWR). Hazard alert addressing silica dangers in construction. Also provides information on personal protection and control measures.
  • Reducing Silica Exposure During Lateral Drilling of Concrete - PDF* Center for Construction Research & Training (CPWR). Guidance materials for drilling operations involving concrete, which is known to contain silica. Addresses various methods for dust control during drilling operations.
Exposure Evaluation
  • OSHA Technical Manual (OTM). OSHA Directive TED 01-00-015 [TED 1-0.15A], (1999, January 20).
  • Cyclone Leak Test Procedure. OSHA, (1997, September 15). Describes a method of leak testing cyclone sampler assemblies used for respirable sampling of silica.
  • Silica Industrial Hygiene Monitoring - OSHA Consultation Program [39 KB PDF*, 3 pages]. OSHA, (1994, August). Shows the x-ray diffraction pattern - quartz standard, and other information for evaluating silica.
  • Overview of Analytical Procedure [2 MB PDF*, 1 page]. OSHA. Shows a flow chart for the handling of silica samples.
  • Laboratory Selection - Criteria That Can Be Used to Select a Laboratory [182 KB PDF*, 9 pages]. American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), Industrial Hygiene Laboratory Accreditation Committee. Includes a checklist and questionnaire that can be used when selecting a laboratory.
Sampling and Analysis
Analytical Methods
  • Quartz and Cristobalite in Workplace Atmospheres. OSHA Method ID-142, (1996, December). Describes the collection of airborne respirable α-quartz and/or cristobalite in the breathing zone of personnel and the subsequent analysis by x-ray diffraction (XRD). Tridymite can also be collected and analyzed using this method if a reference material and diffraction pattern for tridymite are used.
  • Sampling and Analysis of Crystalline Silica - X-ray Diffraction (XRD). OSHA, (1997, June 27). Provides extensive sampling information, including links and frequently asked questions (FAQs).
  • NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM). US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2003-154, (2003). Contains extensive information on direct-reading instruments. The following NIOSH methods use direct-reading techniques:
    • Silica, Crystalline by XRD [35 KB PDF*, 9 pages]. Method No.7500.
    • Silica, Crystalline by VIS [23 KB PDF*, 6 pages]. Method No. 7601.
    • Silica, Crystalline by IR [22 KB PDF*, 6 pages]. Method No. 7602.
    • Silica, Crystalline in coal mine dust, by IR [26 KB PDF*, 7 pages]. Method No. 7603.
  • Quartz Analytical Method (P-7), Infrared Determination of Quartz in Respirable Coal Mine Dust. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), (1994, November 14). This method uses infrared to determine the silica content of a sample.

*Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Directorate of Standards and Guidance at (202) 693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.

All other documents, that are not PDF materials or formatted for the web, are available as Microsoft Office® formats and videos and are noted accordingly. If additional assistance is needed with reading, reviewing or accessing these documents or any figures and illustrations, please also contact OSHA's Directorate of Standards and Guidance at (202) 693-1999.

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