Crystalline silica is an abundant natural material found in soil, stone and sand. It is also present in many construction materials such as brick, mortar and concrete. It becomes respirable when any of the afore-mentioned materials are cut or broken down into fine particles.
More than 85% of workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica work in the construction industry. Other industries where workers are exposed include: asphalt roofing materials, concrete products, cut stone, dental laboratories, foundries, jewelry, porcelain enameling, pottery, railroads, ready-mix concrete, shipyards, structural clay products, and support activities for oil and gas operations.
Below are some of the illnesses that can be caused by excessive inhalation of crystalline silica: