|What Is Silica?|
Silicon dioxide (SiO2) or silica is a chemical compound that is a basic component of soil, sand, granite and other materials that make up approximately 15 percent of the earth’s crust. The respirable crystalline form of silica poses the most significant health and safety concerns. There are there three polymorphs or forms of silica. Quartz is the most common form while cristobalite and tridymite are the two other silica forms.
The inhalation of any of these three forms puts workers at risk for silicosis, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and kidney disease.The Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that over two million United States workers that are exposed to respirable crystalline silica annually. Respirable crystalline silica which is at least 100 times smaller than ordinary sand particles can be generated when cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling and crushing materials such as stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, mortar and industrial sand.
When breathing in respirable crystalline silica dust, it enters the lungs, creates the forming of scar tissue and reduces the lung’s ability to take in oxygen that leads to silicosis the most common effect from silica dust exposure.There are no cures for this disease. However, employees and workers can take proper precautions to lower the risk of crystalline silica exposure. If you have materials or processes of concern that you believe may contain crystalline silica, turn to EMSL’s testing lab for a peace of mind as we can assist you at all levels of the sampling and analysis process.