Silica sand is quartz crystals, that through the work of water and wind, have been broken down into tiny granules and can be found in most non-tropical regions.

Silica sand is one of the most common sands found in the world. It is a beneficial item that is used in making bricks, mortar, windows, car components, windscreens, roads, glass, pottery and other items.

It is also used in foundries, construction, ceramics and the chemical industry, and it is irreplaceable in some high-tech applications.

It is used in maintenance, metallurgical industry, oil extraction (including hydraulic fracturing) and many other applications. Our daily lives benefit from silica.

However, silica sand is dangerous and can present health risks if not properly handled. It causes lung irritations and silicosis (lung disease), tuberculosis and has been linked to many other infections.

In the 1930s, after a wave of worker deaths, the U.S.D.O.L. highlighted the hazards of respirable silica. In 1971, the DOL set standards to limit worker exposure.

Silica sand has very fine grains (including dust) that can cause serious health risk. Silica can easily become airborne with particles smaller than 10 microns (PM10), and the more dangerous fine particulate 2.5 microns (PM2.5) that can lodge deep inside human lungs.

OSHA has been setting rules to curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease in America’s workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline.

OSHA estimates that there are more than 2.3 million workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica (to include mining) daily. Here is a warning stated on a product as required by one state in the USA:

“WARNING: This product contains Portland cement and silica sand. Avoid contact with eyes and skin. Do not take internally. Crystalline silica sand may cause serious lung problems. Avoid breathing dust and wear a respirator in dusty areas. Contact with the dry powder or wet unhardened material can cause skin irritation, severe chemical burns, or serious eye damage. The wearing of waterproof gloves, tight-fitting safety goggles and protective clothing that prevents the product from coming in contact with the skin is recommended. Indirect contact through clothing is as serious as direct contact. Promptly rinse out wet product from clothing.

“FIRST AID: Eye Contact: Flood eyes with water for at least 15 minutes and consult a physician if eye irritation persists. DO NOT RUB EYES. Skin Contact: Wash exposed skin area with soap and water. Consult a physician if irritation persists. Inhalation: Remove to fresh air. Ingestion: Immediately consult a physician.”

Houston County commissioners, we hope that your decisions on everything will be, “PUBLIC SAFETY MUST COME FIRST”!

Larry Salm

senior citizen, Caledonia