What is silicosis?
Silicosis is a disease of the lungs due to breathing dust that contains crystalline silica particles. This dust can cause fibrosis or scar tissue formations in the lungs that reduce the lung’s ability to work to extract oxygen from the air. There is no cure for this silicosis, which means that prevention is the only answer.
What are the symptoms of silicosis?
There are several stages of silicosis. Early stages may go completely unnoticed. Continued exposure may result in the exposed person noticing a shortness of breath upon exercising, possible fever and occasionally bluish skin at the ear lobes or lips. Silicosis makes a person more susceptible to infectious diseases of the lungs like tuberculosis. Progression of the disease leads to fatigue, extreme shortness of breath, loss of appetite, pain in the chest, and respiratory failure, which all may lead eventually to death. Acute silicosis may develop after short periods of exposure. Chronic silicosis usually occurs after 10 or more years of exposure to lower levels of quartz.
Where are workers exposed to crystalline silica dust?
The most severe exposures to crystalline silica result from sandblasting to remove paint and rust from metal bridges, stone buildings, tanks, and other surfaces. Other activities that may produce crystalline silica dust include jack hammering, concrete mixing, concrete drilling, rock/well drilling, and brick and concrete sawing and block cutting. Tunneling operations; replacement or repair of linings of furnaces and kilns; and setting, and repair of railroad track are potential sources of crystalline silica exposure.
Permissible Exposure Limits
OSHA has established a Permissible Exposure Limit, or PEL, which is the maximum amount of airborne crystalline silica that an employee maybe exposed to during a work shift. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that respirable crystalline silica exposures be limited to 0.05 mg/m3 as a time-weighted average for up to 10 hours (NIOSH, 2002). It is important to know where the highest levels of silica are in your work place. Testing the exposed area as well as the exposed employee is an easy way to keep employees safe.
How can AMI Environmental protect employees and the reputation of business?
At AMI Environmental, our main goal is to assist businesses and create a safe working environment, while adhering to government regulations. With decades of experience, our Industrial Hygiene Professionals work to help our clients not only protects your workers but also manage risk. Allowing you to then enjoy the peace of mind knowing your employees will be protected from harm. AMI will work to establish and maintain a safe work environment, including surveying your facility for risks; provide testing within your facility; maintain testing protocol; and assist in the recording process. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Dan Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.