One of the newest “buzzwords” in the environmental field is Crystalline Silica.
Q: What is Crystalline Silica?
A: Crystalline Silica (SiO2) is one of the most abundant minerals found in the earth’s crust. It is found in many different forms, but the three most common are quartz (most abundant), cristobalite, and tridymite.
Q: Where do I come into contact with Crystalline Silica?
A: You come into contact with Crystalline Silica every day. Crystalline Silica is used in items such as concrete, mortar, glass, ceramics, household abrasives, adhesives, paints, and soaps.
Q: Are these items dangerous?
A: The health concern over crystalline silica is associated with the inhalation of respirable dust which has been linked to several autoimmune diseases, cancer and silicosis. The public is exposed to respirable dust during activities like jack hammering, concrete mixing, road repair, concrete drilling, and brick and concrete block cutting and sawing.
Q: Does this only happen on construction sites?
A: Unfortunately these activities are not limited to large scale construction projects. Exposure to respirable dust containing crystalline silica often occurs during simple home maintenance such as mixing of cement, foundation or sidewalk repair and re-pointing of brick.