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Silica, Crystalline

Silica, Crystalline - Photo Credit: OSHA | Copyright: OSHA
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Visit OSHA's Final Rule on Respirable Crystalline Silica page for information on the new final rule.

Hazard Recognition

Recognizing potential hazards is key in preventing and minimizing the diseases caused by silica exposure. The following references aid in recognizing crystalline silica hazards and health effects.

General Resources
  • 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.
  • 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. U.S. 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.
  • OSHA Fact Sheet: Protecting Workers from the Hazards of Abrasive Blasting Materials. OSHA Publication 3697, (2013).
  • 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 in the Construction Industry. OSHA. Also available as a 55 KB PDF, 2 pages.
  • Silicosis in Sandblasters: A Case Study Adapted for Use in U.S. High Schools. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2002-105, (June 2002). 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. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2008-126, (September 2008).
  • 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.
Exposure Evaluation
  • OSHA Technical Manual (OTM). OSHA Directive TED 01-00-015 [TED 1-0.15A], (January 20, 1999).
    • Crystalline Silica. Includes sampling information for crystalline silica.
    • Sample Shipping and Handling. Contains sample handling, packaging, and mailing instructions for industrial hygiene samples to be shipped.
  • Cyclone Leak Test Procedure. OSHA, (September 15, 1997). Describes a method of leak testing cyclone sampler assemblies used for respirable sampling of silica.
Sampling and Analysis
Analytical Methods
  • Quartz and Cristobalite in Workplace Atmospheres. OSHA Method ID-142, (December 1996). 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, (June 27, 1997). Provides extensive sampling information, including links and frequently asked questions (FAQs).
  • NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM). U.S. 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), (November 14, 1994). This method uses infrared to determine the silica content of a sample.
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