Crystalline silica is a common naturally occurring mineral found in stone, which is a significant component in everyday construction products such as concrete, cement, brick and mortar, granite countertops and some soils as well. Any of these materials will release silica dust into the air when subject to actions like grinding, sawing, drilling, chipping, or crushing.
If effective dust control measures aren’t used, occupational exposures to silica dust over time could result disabling lung and airway diseases such as silicosis, lung cancer and pulmonary tuberculosis in workers. Effective dust control measures include use of integrated water delivery systems or vacuum systems on power tools and equipment, substituting to safer materials that don’t contain silica, and isolating exposure sources from workers.
Construction trades, building maintenance and agricultural workers represent the highest risk groups of silica exposure at WSU. However, some laboratories and service shops may also disturb silica. Departments and supervisors can contact EH&S for a hazard assessment and provide silica awareness training to employees.
EH&S provides classroom instructed silica awareness training to supervisors and employees by request. Please contact EH&S at 335-3041 to arrange training.