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Respirable Crystalline Silica

Crystalline silica is a common mineral found in a wide variety of natural and man-made materials used in construction. Most masonry products contain crystalline silica, including concrete, stone, mortar, brick, some tile, and joint compound used in drywall finishing. Crystalline silica is generally not hazardous unless it is inhaled as a fine dust. Once inhaled, the dust may accumulate in the lungs and cause irreversible damage, including the lung disease silicosis. Silica is not the same as asbestos, however, many of the hazards and precautions are similar.


OSHA has established maximum safe levels of exposure to respirable crystalline silica. Employers are responsible for ensuring that employees are not overexposed by limiting the amount of dust that is generated and providing required personal protective equipment when necessary. OSHA has provided simplified guidance for construction workers in the form of a table that gives the requirements for common construction operations that generate respirable silica dust.


Affected employees must be trained about respirable crystalline silica hazards and the methods the employer uses to limit their exposures to those hazards.



Silica Control Program Manual


Useful Information

OSHA Crystalline Silica Regulatory Text

OSHA Crystalline Silica Table 1: Exposure Control Methods 

OSHA Silica Fact Sheet

OSHA Silica in Construction Resources


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