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Silica (General industry)
  • Silica is used to make products such as glass, pottery, ceramics, bricks, concrete, and artificial stone.
  • Inhaled silica can cause silicosis, lung cancer, COPD, and kidney disease.

Crystalline silica is a common mineral found in many naturally occurring materials and used in many industrial products and at construction sites. Materials like sand, concrete, stone and mortar contain crystalline silica. Crystalline silica is also used to make products such as glass, pottery, ceramics, bricks, concrete, and artificial stone. Industrial sand used in certain operations, such as foundry work and hydraulic fracturing (fracking), is also a source of silica exposure.

Inhaling very small (respirable) crystalline silica particles, causes multiple diseases, including silicosis, an incurable lung disease that can lead to disability and death. Respirable crystalline silica also causes lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s silica rule at 1910.1053 applies to all general industry exposures to respirable crystalline silica, except where the employer has objective data demonstrating that employee exposure to respirable crystalline silica will remain below 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air (25 μg/m3) as an eight-hour time-weighted average (TWA) under any foreseeable conditions. The construction industry has a separate standard for silica exposure.