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Preventing silicosis and deaths in construction workers.

Linch KD; Groce D; Parker J
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 19-23, 1997, Dallas, Texas. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 1997 May; :15
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) requests assistance in controlling exposures to respirable crystalline silica in construction workers. In addition to traditional crystalline silica exposure settings, such as rock drilling and sandblasting, construction workers are involved in a number of activities in which building materials containing crystalline silica are dispersed as fine airborne particulate, that can result in both direct worker exposure and "bystander" worker exposure. NIOSH has received reports of silicosis-related deaths in young construction workers, including a 47 year-old West Virginia rock driller, 37 and 39 year-old construction painters in Ohio, a 41 year-old worker in Indiana, and a 44 year-old construction laborer in North Carolina. NIOSH has observed work sites and measured overexposures in respirable crystalline silica in the following operations: drilling concrete (0.81 mg/m3 for 212 minutes), cutting pavement (1.64 mg/m3 for 45 minutes), cutting concrete floors (14.2 mg/ m3 for 350 minutes outside of a disposable respirator), abrasive blasting (0.68 mg/m3 for 60 minutes inside a blasting hood and 1.83 mg/m3 outside), and drilling rock (0.80 mg/m for 324 minutes). NIOSH has also observed adequate work site controls during rock drilling and concrete cutting during which overexposures were not detected. At construction site visits, NIOSH has observed a general lack of awareness concerning the potential hazards of respirable silica exposures, as well as inadequate or inappropriate use of engineering controls and respiratory protection practices. In view of existing environmental data and reports of sentinel health events, strategies need to be developed to reduce silica exposures in the construction industry.
Exposure-levels; Exposure-limits; Respiratory-irritants; Respiratory-protection; Silicates; Silica-dusts; Construction; Construction-workers; Sand-blasting; Airborne-dusts; Airborne-particles; Particulates; Silicosis
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 19-23, 1997, Dallas, Texas
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division