Eurosil - The European Association of Industrial Silica Producers

1.8. Does the level and duration of exposure matter?

Yes. Silicosis only appears when very fine particles of respirable crystalline silica are inhaled in large quantities on a day to day basis for long periods, typically over several years or more. This disease has only been seen in workers from industries where there is a significant exposure to silica dust.

Other factors may influence the effects of respirable crystalline silica on health. People at work are rarely exposed to pure crystalline silica. The dust they breathe in at the workplace is usually composed of a mixture of crystalline silica and other materials.
The response of an individual is likely to depend on:

  • the nature (e.g. particle size and surface chemistry) and crystalline silica content of the dust
  • the dust fraction
  • the extent and nature of personal exposure (duration, frequency and intensity, which may be influenced by the working methods)
  • personal physiological characteristics
  • smoking habits. 

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