The Dangers of Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) Exposure

What is crystalline silica and silica dust?

Crystalline Silica
Silica is silicon dioxide, a naturally occurring and widely abundant mineral that forms the major component of most rocks and soils (via SafeWork Australia).

Silica Dust
Silica dust is generated in workplace mechanical processes such as crushing, cutting, drilling, grinding, sawing or polishing of natural stone or man-made products that contain silica. Some dust particles can be so small that they are not visible; these are commonly referred to as respirable particles (via SafeWork Australia). 

High Risk Exposure Activities

SafeWork Australia gives some of the following examples of work activities that can generate respirable silica dust particles:

What diseases can RCS cause?

According to the Cancer Council, exposure to silica dust can lead to the development of lung cancer, silicosis (an irreversible scarring and stiffening of the lungs), kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

It’s estimated that 230 people in Australia develop lung cancer each year as a result of past exposure to silica dust at work.

How can we protect ourselves?

Our highly qualified team of Occupational Hygienists, including Certified Occupational Hygienists (COH) recognised by the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists (AIOH), have extensive experience in undertaking Occupational and Industrial Hygiene Risk Management and Assessment throughout Australia.

ADE provides a range of respirable crystalline silica assessment and management options, such as:

Personal and static monitoring for respirable dust and RCS
NATA Accredited for RCS sampling and analysis
RCS awareness training
RCS risk assessment
Tailored dust reduction plans to meet regulatory compliance
Remote real time dust monitoring
Determination of mask protection factors for appropriate selection and use
Fit test on Personal Respiratory Protection (disposable, half-face, and full-face masks)