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Inhalation of respirable crystalline silica particles has long been known to cause silicosis, a disabling, non-reversible and sometimes fatal lung disease. Respirable crystalline silica also causes lung cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has designated crystalline silica as carcinogenic to humans, and the U.S. National Toxicology Program has concluded that respirable crystalline silica is known to be a human carcinogen. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has also recommended that respirable crystalline silica be considered a potential occupational carcinogen. In addition, exposure to respirable crystalline silica has been associated with other respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (including bronchitis and emphysema), as well as kidney and immune system diseases.

  • Health Effects of Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2002-129, (2002, April).
  • Silicosis Mortality Trends and New Exposures to Respirable Crystalline Silica — United States, 2001–2010.. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) 64(05);117-120, (2015, February 13). Describes silicosis death rates from 2001–2010 as well as new sources of exposure to respirable crystalline silica.
  • Notes from the Field: Update: Silicosis Mortality - United States, 1999–2013. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) 64(23);653-654, (2015, June 19). Presents new national mortality data for silicosis.
  • Report on Carcinogens (RoC). US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Toxicology Program (NTP). Identifies and discusses agents, substances, mixtures, or exposure circumstances that may pose a health hazard due to their carcinogenicity. The listing of substances in the RoC only indicates a potential hazard and does not establish the exposure conditions that would pose cancer risks to individuals.
    • Silica, Crystalline (Respirable Size) [129 KB PDF*, 2 pages]. NTP classification: Known to be a human carcinogen.
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks for Humans [4 MB PDF*, 287 pages]. World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, (2006). IARC Classification: Carcinogenic to humans (Group 1).

*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.

**eBooks - EPUB is the most common format for e-Books. If you use a Sony Reader, a Nook, or an iPad you can download the EPUB file format. If you use a Kindle, you can download the MOBI file format.

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