Dust - Respirable Silica

Exposure to respirable silica can lead to silicosis, a condition resulting from occupational exposure to elevated concentrations of respirable dust containing silica over a period of years. Silicosis causes slowly progressive fibrosis of the lungs and impairment of the lung function. Silicosis is a chronic condition usually caused by elevated exposure to respirable crystalline dust containing silica such as quartz or cristobalite.

The possible sources of respirable crystalline silica can be from mining and quarrying of rock including quartzite, granite, slate and even limestone where quartz seams can be found.  The crushing of rock also generates respirable dust which can contain the respirable crystalline silica.  Dry cutting of any material containing crystalline quartz generates respirable quartz such as concrete cutting. 

We measure personal and positional exposure to respirable dust and have the samples analysed for quartz and cristobalite content to establish the presence of respirable crystalline quartz and the level of risk it poses to a persons health and if controls are need to reduce exposure .

Because there is no effective treatment for silicosis, controlling exposure to respirable crystalline silica that is preventing exposure to the dust is critical.  Using engineering controls to limit exposure to the dust containing respirable crystalline silica in conjunction with the use of respirators which are correctly fitted can prevent the inhalation of the respirable dust and reduce the risk of silicosis.

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