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  • Writer's pictureEfthimios Sifounios

What Is Silica Dust? Silica Dust in Ceramics

Silica is a mineral found in many common products. Fine silica dust can penetrate deep into the lungs. Prolonged silica dust exposure can contribute to serious health complications, including COPD, emphysema, lung cancer and silicosis.

What Is Silica Dust?

Silica dust contains fine particles that form during mechanical alteration to silica-containing materials, such as concrete, bricks, tiles, quartz and other stones. There are two types of silica: amorphous and crystalline. Medical experts and health officials have identified the dust from crystalline silica as hazardous. It is a known human carcinogen and is also associated with several serious health conditions.

A few reports suggest that amorphous silica can cause respiratory diseases (but not silicosis) in workers. Studies in lab animals suggest that although breathing amorphous silica can cause lung inflammation and injury, it is less hazardous than crystalline silica.

Silica Dust Facts

  • Silica is one of the most abundant naturally occurring minerals in the world.

  • Amorphous and crystalline are the two types of silica.

  • Dust produced by mechanical action on silica-containing materials is a known health hazard.

Quartz is the most common form of respirable crystalline silica. It is in numerous everyday products, including art clays and glazes, caulk, cleansers, cosmetics, paint, pet litter and talcum powder. When inhaled, dust particles settle deep in the lungs. This can contribute to elevated rates of lung cancer, particularly among individuals with

consistent occupational or environmental exposure to silica dust.

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