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NIOSH Highlights Silica Research at OSHA Public Hearing


March 18, 2014
NIOSH Update:

Press Office Contact: Christina Spring (202) 245-0633

Today, March 18th, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) participated in public hearings held by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on their proposed rule for establishing new permissible exposure limits for respirable crystalline silica. NIOSH has a long history of research and recommendations on preventing worker exposure to silica.

In today’s testimony, NIOSH researchers addressed the health effects of exposure to respirable crystalline silica and our extensive work to develop recommendations and controls for preventing worker exposures. Dr. Paul Schulte, director of NIOSH’s Education and Information Division, led the panel of NIOSH researchers with expertise on respirable crystalline silica exposures and health effects.

Occupational exposures to respirable crystalline silica are related to serious, long-lasting adverse health effects such as silicosis, lung cancer, pulmonary tuberculosis (TB), airways diseases, autoimmune disorders, chronic renal disease, and other adverse health effects. These adverse effects are preventable. In 1974, NIOSH published the “Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica,” recommending that the exposure limit be reduced to 50 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3), the level indicated in OSHA’s proposed rule.

NIOSH research has also studied the use of engineering control technology in the areas of grinding concrete, sandblasting, rock drilling, hydraulic fracturing (fracking), concrete floor polishing, cutting fiber cement siding, tuck pointing, and asphalt milling. NIOSH has also promoted the prevention of silicosis through model partnerships and cooperative agreements with government, industry, labor and academia.

As NIOSH research has shown, the proposed OSHA standard is measurable by techniques that are valid, reproducible, attainable with existing technologies, and available to industry and government agencies.

To learn more about NIOSH research on silica dust visit NIOSH is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths. More information can be found at