Study shows exposure to Silica worst among construction workers

84 Personal and "Area" Breathing-Zone Samples Analyzed by the Department of Health at the University of Massachusetts Lowell

  1. Certain tasks expose construction workers to more than 10 times the permissible exposure limit (PEL) set by OSHA of 50 micrograms per cubic meter
  2. Concrete chipping exposed workers to a time-weighted average of 527 micrograms per cubic meter
  3. Crushing machine operators exposed to 93.3 micrograms per cubic meter
  4. Operating engineers & laborers had lowest exposure, yet is still nearly double the PEL at 17 micrograms per cubic meter
  5. Even with dust suppression controls in place, the researchers recommend that employers provide additional respiratory protection
  6. From the National Cancer Institute:
    1. Crystalline silica is an abundant natural material, crystalline silica is found in stone, soil, and sand. It is also found in concrete, brick, mortar, and other construction materials. Crystalline silica comes in several forms, with quartz being the most common. Quartz dust is respirable crystalline silica, which means it can be taken in by breathing.
    2. Exposure of workers to respirable crystalline silica is associated with elevated rates of lung cancer. The strongest link between human lung cancer and exposure to respirable crystalline silica has been seen in studies of quarry and granite workers and workers involved in ceramic, pottery, refractory brick, and certain earth industries.
  1. National Safety Council's Safety + Health MagazineChipping, crushing exposes construction workers to high levels of silica dust, study shows
  2. National Cancer Institute | Crystalline Silica
  3. Photo by Shopify Partners from Burst

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