Silica and Health
Crystalline silica (SiO2) is ubiquitous in nature, where it forms 12% of the Earth crust. It is the main component of sand on beaches (up to 99%), and the basic material of which most rocks are created and is therefore present in almost all materials extracted from the soil. These materials are used as essential components in the manufacturing of many every day life activities, commodities and products around us such as glass, ceramics, foundry, paints, plastics and construction.
Prolonged and excessive exposure to fine particles of crystalline silica dust (i.e. respirable crystalline silica) may lead to a well known occupational disease called silicosis. Thanks to awareness of the risk and implementation of preventive measures including limit values in all Member States, this disabling disease can be prevented.
With the strong willingness to prevent the risks related to exposure to respirable particles of crystalline silica, the Employers and Employees of 14 sectors producing or using crystalline silica gathered within NEPSI, the European Network on Silica (www.nepsi.eu) have negotiated, signed and are applying an “Agreement on workers’ health protection through the good handling and use of crystalline silica and products containing it” (OJ 2006/C279/02).
For full and up-to-date information on silica, its health effects and the many industry actions please consult the list of Frequently Asked Questions below.