Silica dust is fine, particulate quartz that becomes a health hazard when it becomes airborne and then inhaled. It only takes a very, tiny amount of airborne silica to become hazardous to workers and local residents. Silica is a crystalline mineral and when inhaled, it settles into the lungs permanently, continuing its damage for the rest of one’s life. Each exposure to silica results in more silica accumulation in the the lungs increasing the risk of silicosis, lung cancer and other lung disease.
Even if silica levels are really low in surrounding communities, small amounts of silica will accumulate in the lungs of long term residents, building up over one’s lifetime.
- Silica: A Lung Carcinogen; Kyle Steenland, PhD; Elizabeth Ward, PhD (2014)
- Long-Term Exposure to Silica Dust and Risk of Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in Chinese Workers: A Cohort Study; Chen W, Liu Y, Wang H, Hnizdo E, Sun Y, et al. (2012)
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and longitudinal changes in pulmonary function due to occupational exposure to respirable quartz; Mohner, M., Kersten, N., Gellissen, J. (2012)
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Occupational Exposure to Silica; Rushton, L.