Crystalline silica is one of the minerals represented by IMA-Europe. It has been known for many years that prolonged inhalation of Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) may cause a specific type of lung damage called silicosis.
Silica is commonly found in nature as sand. Silica exists in many different forms that can be crystalline as well as non-crystalline (amorphous).
Quartz, the most common of the crystalline silica polymorphs, constitutes 12% of the Earth's crust and is the second most abundant mineral in nature. As a consequence, it is everywhere in our daily environment: on beaches and roads, in the fields, on athletics tracks and in the garden. All mining and quarrying activities involve crystalline silica. Indeed it is present in all naturally occurring materials that have been mined from the ground for thousands of years: sand, gravel, dimension stones, metallic and non metallic mineral ores. Therefore, from traces to significant amounts, crystalline silica is present in numerous commodities which are vital raw materials for modern technology and everyday life.
Industry is a strong advocate of workers’ health protection and the prevention of their exposure to RCS and, to this aim, has been the initiator of an innovative Social Dialogue Agreement on workers' health protection through the good handling and use of crystalline silica and products containing it.
For the purpose of providing all useful information on RCS, including information on the numerous industry initiatives regarding RCS workplace exposure prevention and RCS Substance Classification, EUROSIL has created a dedicated website on Respirable Crystalline Silica.