Earlier this year, OSHA announced a new rule that will better protect workers from the harmful effects of breathing respirable crystalline silica dust. Crystalline silica is a common mineral found in many naturally occurring materials and used in many industrial products and at construction sites. Inhaled respirable crystalline silica causes lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and kidney disease. OSHA estimates that the rule will save over 600 lives and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis each year, once its effects are fully realized.
This final rule establishes a new permissible exposure limit of 50 micrograms of respirable crystalline silica per cubic meter of air (50 μg/m3) as an 8-hour time-weighted average in all industries covered by the rule.