Eurosil - The European Association of Industrial Silica Producers

1.15. What are the regulatory measures taken by EU Member States?

Current regulatory exposure limits for respirable quartz in Europe range from 0.025 mg/m³ (Ireland, Italy, Portugal) to 0.3 mg/m³ (Poland), with an average of 0.1 mg/m³. See table of occupational exposure limits (respirable dust) in EU 27 + Norway and Switzerland.

By virtue of the subsidiarity principle which prevails in health matters, some Member States have reviewed the crystalline silica file on their own and have made regulatory decisions.

Belgium: as a rule, all IARC Category 1 & 2 are included in the carcinogens at work regulation. Crystalline silica was included in 1999 but Risk Assessment may allow exemption from the scope of the Decree.

Denmark: Respirable crystalline silica (RCS) is listed in the carcinogens at work regulation since since 1993.

Germany: the AGS (committee on hazardous substances) decided in 2002 that respirable crystalline silica had carcinogenic effects in humans but underlined that further research was needed on the effects at low doses. The AGS rejected the listing of RCS in the TRGS 905 (catalogue of carcinogens, mutagens and substances toxic to the reproduction) because they acknowledged that RCS is not a substance and that it should be regulated under the occupational health regulations. As a result, operations with RCS were included in 2005 TRGS 906 “Catalogue of carcinogenic operations and procedures, together with e.g. diesel exhaust emissions and wood dust. In the review of TRGS 900 (technical rules for occupational exposure limits for hazardous substances), all TRK values (technical based concentrations) were cancelled. As a result, RCS no longer has a limit value in Germany but it is recommended to use the previous limit of 0.15 mg/m³ as a benchmark.

Netherlands: Respirable crystalline silica (RCS) is listed in the carcinogens at work regulation since 1994

Norway: an Expert Criteria Document (updated in 1998) recommends to classify crystalline silica as a low potency carcinogen (Category 3).

UK: a “Control” approach” has been adopted through Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Essentials guidance publications see http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/guidance/index.htm.  This approach inspired the Good Practices Guide of the Social Dialogue Agreement on Silica and the Health & Safety Executive endorsed the Good Practices Guide, giving it equivalent status as their own guidance documentation.