Silica Safety in Construction
Workers in cement/concrete or stucco operations, abrasive blasting, jack hammering, rock/well drilling, brick/block cutting, and tunneling operations are often overexposed to crystalline silica. Although any exposure can be dangerous, overexposure can reach other workers in the area and even their families. Because crystalline silica can cause silicosis and possibly death, dust-producing operations should carefully follow industry safety measures.
What happens when exposure occurs?
Crystalline silica is a dangerous dust that can be inhaled. It has been classified as a human lung carcinogen. It reacts with tissue in the lungs to create scarring or fibrotic nodules around the silica particles and may result in silicosis. Silicosis may result in breathing difficulty, tuberculosis, and possibly death. Exposure ranges from cumulative (over many years of exposure) to acute (exposure to high concentrations of contaminated air in short periods). Acute silicosis is identifiable by fever, shortness of breath, and cyanosis, or bluish colored skin. Silicosis is incurable and may be progressive even after dust exposure has ceased.