Sudden Concern with Silica

Increasing Use

Why the sudden concern with silica? Silica is a major component of planet Earth and has been from the beginning of time.  As a result, mankind has always been exposed to silica. However, exposure is higher than ever. This is because of increased activity in the construction and industrial areas.

ready-mix concrete plant with sand aka silica
Ready-mix concrete contains silica

Lower Limits

OSHA’s (U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s, silica limits are now lower due to the sudden concern with silica a few years ago.  To explain, these limits are OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs).  Because of the sudden concern with silica, OSHA lowered the PELs for three sectors of workers. Explaining further, those sectors are general industry (29 CFR 1910), maritime industry (29 CFR 1915, 1917, & 1918), and construction (29 CFR 1926).

Disease, the Real Concern with Silica

In the 1930’s, the United States became concerned with silica and the resulting disease silicosis. It is unknown why it suddenly came to the forefront. However, read on for more information on silicosis.

Silica Defined

Silica is a chemical compound, which by definition means there are at least two chemical elements. Firstly, is silicon (Si) which has metallic and non-metallic properties and makes up a large part of the earth’s crust. Secondly, is oxygen (O), which we all know human beings need to survive. Thirdly, comes the chemical reaction where one atom of silicon combines with two atoms of oxygen. Silicon dioxide or SO-2 is the resulting compound. Silica or sand is the common name. Silica makes up quartz, sand, and other substances. Finally, silica occurs in concrete, granite, slate, sandstone, and sandpaper, among other things.

Concern with Silica & Workers

Exposure Routes

Silica can enter the body via three routes. Firstly, it can enter through the skin, known as dermal exposure. Secondly, it can enter through the mouth and digestive system, known as ingestion. Finally, silica can enter the body through the respiratory tract, known as inhalation. Of those three routes, inhalation is the most significant and worst route, because it can end up in the worker’s lungs. As a result, the worker can develop silicosis. Even more important, the greater the exposure the greater the likelihood of silicosis.

Effect on the Body

Silicosis is the respiratory condition that can result from breathing in silica. It is a terrible disease which affects countless workers exposed to silica dust. Here is a link to OSHA’s video on silicosis: .  It is short and to the point. It makes a strong point for avoiding silica exposure.

Testing Workers

ESC has lots of experience testing for silica. The firm has tested at various construction job sites under real and worst case conditions. Typically, this is done where concrete is being cut, milled, or drilled.

ESC has tested at manufacturing plants where granite counter tops are made, concrete products are constructed, roofing shingles are manufactured, and fertilizer is compounded, plus at a college where pottery is made.  ESC’s Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH, works with ESC’s staff level industrial hygienists in designing testing projects, interpreting the results, and preparing the report. More information is available on ESC’s web site.

Environmental Safety Consultants


Contact ESC ( for silica testing or more information. ESC has been providing such testing in the industrial hygiene area for over thirty years and has a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH). The staff has the credentials and experience to help with all silica testing and consulting needs. ESC strives to respond immediately to all inquiries. Contact ESC today!

Certified Industrial Hygienist & Industrial Hygiene

What is Industrial Hygiene?

Certified Industrial HygienistThe term raises a lot of questions from the general public.  They often include whether it is similar to dental hygiene or if it is a prescribed procedure for manufacturers to wash their hands?  It has been suggested over the years that perhaps industrial hygiene be replaced with occupational hygiene.  Maybe so, but that is not self-evident either.  Industrial hygiene concerns the recognition, evaluation, and control of hazards in the work environment.  It has evolved over the last couple thousand years and like a lot of things, exploded with the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800’s.  It involves identifying hazards on the job that can affect the health of workers.  It has grown out of the manufacturing sector, was applied directly to the construction and maritime industries, and now includes virtually any work environment with the recognition of hazards from asbestos, radon, mold, silica, indoor air quality, and, yes, most recently the novel coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is a CIH?

A CIH is a Certified Industrial Hygienist, or a credentialed industrial hygienist.  Although anyone can label themselves an industrial hygienist, not everyone can say they are truly a CIH.  It takes a bachelors or masters degree in industrial hygiene, or in biology, chemistry, or engineering, with the core science and industrial hygiene courses to become a CIH.  Then, one must work under another CIH for five years.  After that, an application is completed and submitted to the Board for EHS Credentialing, (formerly American Board of Industrial Hygiene,  The final step is to take the examination which covers core competency and actual practice.  But wait, there is more!  Continuing education is required and quite rigorous.  Upon satisfactory completion of that requirement, re-certification is required every five years.

Why use a CIH?

The reason is because a Certified Industrial Hygienist has the education, training, experience, and credentials to properly complete your industrial hygiene work.  The work should be court defensible.  What?  Not planning on going to court?  Unfortunately, in today’s litigious society, it doesn’t matter.  Especially in the world of employee exposure to hazards.  Since the CIH credential came about in 1956 from the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH), courts have come to recognize the expertise and credibility associated with that credentialed professional.  I have personally been allowed to testify in a case in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court in Florida while the non-CIH was denied.

ESC Certified Industrial HygienistSo there is an overview of industrial hygiene and what a CIH is!  Stay tuned for our next in depth blog on industrial hygiene testing.  If you need any assistance, Environmental Safety Consultants ( is here.  We are a Florida licensed environmental engineering company with a CIH on staff.  We have the credentials and experience to help you complete your industrial hygiene project.  We have a proven track record with a Florida licensed environmental engineer and environmental scientists on staff.  We specialize in industrial hygiene, indoor air quality, asbestos, lead paint, silica, noise, and more.  We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (  Contact us today!

OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard

OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS or Right-to-Know Rule) has been revised to align with requirements of the EU’s (European Union’s) Global Harmonization Standard (GHS). There are several deadlines from December 1, 2013 through June 1, 2016. The 2013 deadline was to train all employees on the new labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS, formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets or MSDS) that will be forthcoming with chemical products.  There are nine hazard classifications and pictograms to universally communicate the hazards around the globe.  The later deadlines concern revising your specific program and providing additional employee training for health or physical hazards.

Hazard Communication StandardIf you need any more information on OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard, Environmental Safety Consultants ( can assist.  We have the credentials and experience to answer your questions and steer you in the right direction.  We are a Florida-licensed Engineering business and are licensed by the U.S. EPA in Lead Based Paint Inspections and Risk Assessments.  ESC also has a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH, Board for EHS Credentialing, formerly American Board of Industrial Hygiene, which is critical for lead work.

We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (  Contact us today!