Crystalline silica is a mineral found in the earth’s crust – it’s more common than you think! It’s present in about 95% of rocks, clays, sands, and soils. Silica is a common mineral found in many naturally-occurring materials and used in many industrial products. Materials like sand, concrete, stone, and mortar contain crystalline silica. The crystalline silica found in these materials becomes airborne as dust from activities such as: demolition, abrasive blasting, crushing, loading, hauling, and dumping, dry sweeping, trenching and excavating, etc. This airborne dust poses a risk to employees and is considered a hazardous exposure in the workplace.
Inhaling very small crystalline silica particles can causes multiple diseases, including silicosis, an incurable lung disease that can lead to disability and death, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease. Symptoms of silicosis include: shortness of breath, severe cough, fatigue, loss of appetite, chest pains, and fever.
These diseases are preventable by using Engineering Controls. Engineering Controls include: ventilation and wet methods for cutting and sawing crystalline silica-containing materials to reduce workers’ exposure to silica dust, dust-containment systems, wetting down materials, using PPE such as respirators and dust masks, practicing good personal hygiene by washing, showering, regularly changing into clean clothes, and never eating, drinking or smoking in dusty areas.
The NEO team maintains the most up-to-date training, experience and credentials necessary to provide our customers with consultations, testing, abatement, and demolition services. NEO annually updates credentials through training by the EPA, OSHA, and state-of-the-art industry standards continuing education programs.