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NEW Visit OSHA's Final Rule on Respirable Crystalline Silica page for information on the new final rule.

Health Effects

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
NTP
  • 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.
IARC
  • 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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