Health effects from respirable crystalline silica exposure
Breathing silica dust can cause many acute and chronic diseases. Workers can breathe in harmful amounts of silica dust over time and eventually develop a disabling lung disease (e.g., silicosis or lung cancer) when effective dust control measures are not used. Over time, the crystalline silica causes scarring of the lungs, impairing the lungs' gas exchange ability. Silicosis is caused by inhalation and deposition of respirable crystalline silica particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter.
Respirable crystalline silica exposure has also been linked to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), kidney and auto-immune diseases, increased risk of latent tuberculosis (TB) infection and other lung infections.
The best way to prevent diseases associated with respirable crystalline silica exposure is to control the exposure to silica dust. Exposure controls include engineering controls, wet methods, specific work practices and personal protective equipment (PPE).