Why is Respirable Crystalline Silica dangerous?
Respirable crystalline silica (RCS), in the form of a very fine dust generated during the fabrication of engineered stone products, is cause for significant concern in the workplace. RCS inhalation causes scarring of the lung tissue leading to a serious health condition called silicosis.
This is when silica dust particles become trapped in lung tissue, causing inflammation and scarring, and reducing the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen. Symptoms of silicosis can include shortness of breath, cough and fatigue. Silicosis can result from exposure to RCS over many years, but very high short-term exposures can cause it to develop rapidly. Silicosis can cause permanent disability or death and is an emerging health issue overseas.
One form of silicosis is called ‘accelerated silicosis’. This has been associated with exposures to high concentrations of RCS over periods, usually, of 3 to 10 years, although there are reports of cases amongst workers with only 1 year of exposure.
Workers exposed to RCS can develop conditions such conditions such as Kidney Disease, Tuberculosis, Heart Disease, Auto-immune diseases, Chronic-Obstructive Pulmonary (Lung) Disease (COPD) – (e.g. Emphysema), all potentially progressing to death.
Engineered stone bench tops can contain up to 95 per cent crystalline silica whereas a natural stone such as granite may contain from 20 to 60 per cent.
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Contact us at RCSAccreditation@IMPAC.co.nz or 0800 246 722