Just Say No To Crystalline Silica
Crystalline silica sounds like a cross between a supplement and a new age gemstone which is partly accurate, since silica is commonly known as quartz, and is the principal component of sandstone and other rocks. But unlike the naturally occurring geological formation, crystalline silica is not so benign.
Tiny airborne particles of quartz dust are able to penetrate deep into the lungs, which can cause silicosis (an incurable lung disease), lung cancer, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and kidney disease.Dangerous Dust Everywhere This is especially worrisome for those who work in industrial occupations, in activities such as sandblasting; sawing brick; drilling into concrete walls; grinding mortar; manufacturing brick, concrete, stone, or ceramic products; and cutting or crushing stone. Increasingly, however, airborne silica is becoming a risk for the general population via commercial products such as cosmetics, pet litter, talcum powder, caulk, and paint. Is it safe to even go to work, apply make-up, seal that leaky window, or clean up after kitty? To help protect workers, OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has been enforcing the Respirable Crystalline Silica in Construction standard since September 23, 2017. The standard established a new PEL of 50 g/m3for all covered industries, as well as requiring additional employee protections, such as:
- performing exposure assessments
- using exposure control methods
- respiratory protection
- medical surveillance
- developing hazard communication information
- keeping silica-related records.