An inorganic compound formed by combining silicon and oxygen atoms. There are two types – Crystalline & Amorphous, Crystalline is the most hazardous and it is the one we are talking about today. Quartz is the most common form of Crystalline Silica, it’s the second most common mineral on the Earth’s surface. Beach sand is nearly pure quartz!
Why is it Dangerous?
• When you make Silica small and airborne it can be breathed in, unfortunately, when you breathe in small particles (the respirable crystalline stuff) it can cause chronic medical issues like:
• Silicosis: Scarring of lung tissue, COPD: Chronic obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and Lung Cancer
• Respirable Crystalline Silica Exposure has also been linked to Kidney disease and autoimmune conditions like lupus
What are some of the sources of silica dust:
• Cutting, Sawing, Jack hammering, Scabbling, Bush hammering, Scarifying while working with concrete
• Pouring, breaking, mixing, & or coring into Cement, Mortar, or Grout
• Earth disturbing, scraping, sacking, patching while working with asphalt, aggregates, sand, soil (Fill Dirt, Top Soil Etc)
• Demolishing, Grinding, Sanding, Sweeping or cleaning while working with Brick, Block, Stone, Tile, Drywall, Fiber Cement Products
• And several more
How do we protect ourselves?
• We have to plan our jobs every person, every day in an attempt to eliminate and substitute Silica out.
• We’ll modify our work practices with engineering controls like wet methods, ventilation, HEPA filtration, and other protections to keep Silica levels under control.
• When Silica dust can’t be kept under certain limits we’ll wear PPE to protect us from breathing it in as a last line of defense.
• But very importantly everyone won’t be expected to work with the Respirable form of crystalline silica, only selected crews.
• Like any other hazardous material, if you aren’t one of those selected crews, stop and contact your foreman before attempting to do anything with that involves Respirable Crystalline Silica Dust!