Dangerous Construction: Crystalline Silica and the Silicosis Threat

28 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2013

Date Written: March 15, 2011


Silica is an essential component of rocks, soil, and sand, and it is the second most common mineral on earth. Epidemiological studies indicate that crystalline silica poses a health risk when inhaled. This is an important issue because exposure to crystalline silica is widespread among many occupations, such as mining and construction. Exposure to crystalline silica is a problem in both developed and developing nations. It is estimated that 3,200,000 and 1,700,000 workers are exposed annually in the European Union and United States, respectively. In Canada, almost 350,000 workers are exposed every year. This paper provides an encompassing detail of crystalline silica and its negative health effects. First, the chemical and immunopathological characteristics are introduced. Second, the characteristics of silica dust are explored in order to define its health hazard processes. Finally, this paper focuses on the construction industry and introduces ways to control and prevent crystalline silica exposure.

Keywords: silica, silicosis, silicon dioxide, construction, mining, crystalline silica, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, pneumoconiosis, chronic, accelerated, acute, progressive massive fibrosis

JEL Classification: I10, I18, J28

Suggested Citation

Ciechanowski, Peter, Dangerous Construction: Crystalline Silica and the Silicosis Threat (March 15, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2314635 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2314635

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