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The Health Impacts of Crystalline Silica Exposure

Crystalline silica is about 100 times smaller than any granule of ordinary sand. This makes it easy to accidentally breathe in if you are working around this quartz dust.

OSHA silica exposure rules are very clear when it comes to companies. This is because silica is a huge risk since employees could be inhaling it without realizing it.

Not everyone is usually exposed to this quartz dust, thankfully. But those who are often exposed to it may be without the right safety precautions.

Keep reading to find out what the risks are of crystalline silica exposure.

What Is Crystalline Silica?

You may not understand what crystalline silica is or why it is so dangerous. This is a natural material that's found in sand, stone, and soil.

But it could also be in brick, mortar, concrete, and other construction materials. It comes in a variety of forms, but quartz is the most common.

Quartz dust is a version of crystalline silica that is highly dangerous. This is because it is respirable, making it something you can inhale without realizing it.

Inhaling any kind of dust or small granules is very dangerous in most cases. This can contaminate your body and go straight to your lungs.

It is especially dangerous when we are talking about something like quartz dust.

How Are People Exposed to Quartz Dust?

Respirable crystalline silica is not something that most people will ever experience. This is because most people are not in workplaces where this is a common material.

But this dust may be in most industrial and occupational settings. For example, people who have to cut materials like concrete or brick could risk exposure.

As they are cutting these materials, silica dust could be going into the surrounding air. There are also instances where silica diet exposure happens to ordinary people.

This is because this could be hiding in different commercial products. Some examples of this are pet litter, art clay, caulk, paint, and cleaners.

These are examples where you may experience very small amounts of silica dust. But the reality is that small amounts of exposure add up over time.

It is also worth mentioning that most people don’t experience side effects for many years. You may not even notice any problems until 10 years after the exposure.

Crystalline Silica Health Risks

If you believe you have been exposed to quartz dust, there are some risks to be aware of. These are health risks that have been documented regarding silica.

Keep in mind that what you experience will be related to how much exposure you've had. Most people will not have health issues for many many years later.

But if you are exposed to a large amount of quartz dust, you could feel side effects very quickly.

Lung Cancer

A type of cancer that is a risk is lung cancer. This is when cells within the body grow out of control and create tumors. Cancerous cells travel from the lungs into the rest of your body.

This process is called metastasis, as the cancer cells infect other parts of your body. It is a very serious type of cancer that needs to be caught quickly.

Kidney Disease

Another risk is developing kidney disease. Studies show that increasing levels of quartz dust exposure produce this risk.

This is mainly associated with workers exposed to this danger often.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease also includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. This is a serious disease that can have life-altering impacts on workers.

It often involves shortness of breath with trouble breathing and phlegm. You may also have coughing or wheezing that makes it very difficult to do daily tasks.

Autoimmune Disease

Silica exposure also has a track record for promoting autoimmune diseases. It is associated with increasing the risk of someone developing one or more of these diseases.

This could include things like systemic lupus erythematosus, Scleroderma, or rheumatoid arthritis.

Crystalline Silica Exposure Symptoms

Aside from the health risks associated with crystalline silica, there are plenty of symptoms. If you develop lung disease or COPD, these come with their own individual side effects.

But many people first experience a variety of random symptoms. It is usually the symptoms that drive them to get medical testing done.

This is often when doctors will discover if they have had silica exposure. Some symptoms include coughing, chest pain, or fatigue.

You may also experience shortness of breath and other lung-related symptoms. This is because respirable crystalline silica absorbs it into your lungs and directly impacts them.

From there, it can start to impact the rest of your body. If you have ever been exposed to quartz dust, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Medical professionals will be able to run tests to see if you have any of these health concerns. Catching them early on will make a huge difference in your recovery and quality of life.

How to Prevent Silica Exposure

To prevent silica exposure to workers, companies need to be proactive. They can do this by having shipyard training courses.

Compliance Training Online offers OSHA certification courses to teach workers how to be safer. This brings awareness to the dangers and helps to prevent further exposure.

Crystalline Silica Risks: Everything You Need to Know

If you work in the labor industry, you may be worried about crystalline silica exposure. This is a kind of quartz dust that is inhalable and linked to many health concerns.

Are you interested in shipyard training courses? Contact us today at Compliance Training Online for high-quality courses.



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