NEW Visit OSHA's Final Rule on Respirable Crystalline Silica page for information on the new final rule.
Occupational exposure to crystalline silica often occurs as part of or working alongside common workplace operations involving cutting, sawing, drilling, and crushing of concrete, brick, block, rock, and stone products. Operations using sand products can also result in worker inhalation of small (respirable) crystalline silica particles in the air. Health effects from silica exposures include:
- Silicosis, a disabling, non-reversible and sometimes fatal lung disease;
- Other non-malignant respiratory diseases, such as chronic bronchitis;
- Lung cancer; and
- Kidney disease, including nephritis and end-stage renal disease.
To a lesser extent, there is cause for concern that silica exposures may be associated with auto-immune disorders and cardiovascular disease.
Below are links to resources discussing the health effects of crystalline silica at length:
- NIOSH Silica Resource Page This resource contains many documents including:
- 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).