What Is Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS)Dust and Why Is It Dangerous?

The dangers of exposure to respirable silica dust include body disorders and life-threatening diseases. Companies should remove and prevent silica dust to protect employees and nearby communities from RCS. But what exactly is respirable crystalline silica? What can you do to keep your employees safe?

Let’s find out.

What is respirable crystalline silica (RCS)?

Respirable crystalline silica is fine, breathable dust. RCS dust particles are ultra-small and life-threatening to people exposed. According to OSHA, at the bare minimum, respirable silica is one hundred times tinier than normal beach sand. In the industrial world, companies introduce respirable crystalline silica to the atmosphere during activities like Sand abrasive blasting, Sawing concrete or brick, drilling or sanding into concrete walls, manufacturing ceramic products, and grinding motors. When you fail to remove dust from the air, inhaling ultra-small silica particles increases the risk of deadly diseases, incurable illnesses, and permanent disability.

Respirable crystalline silica causes life-threatening diseases like


Silicosis is one of the deadliest of all diseases caused by RCS. It disables the victim and can even cause death as its incurable. When silicosis invades a person’s breathing system, it prevents the lungs from absorbing sufficient oxygen by forming a scar on the organs.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is a group of diseases that block airflow and cause breathing-related issues. It includes deadly illnesses like chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Just like silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease has no cure. But the symptoms can be treated and controlled.

Lung Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer kills more people than prostate, breast, and colon cancers combined. As a result, it’s the leading cause of cancer death. Exposure to RCS increases the chances of getting lung cancer. When the disease attacks a victim, it forms tumors interrupting the lungs’ work. Lung cancer can also spread to other major body organs and is incurable in nearly every situation.

How to manage silica dust on the work site

Dust extractors

At your workplace, dust extractors may be used to create a silica-dust-free working environment, protecting you from exposure. Dust extractors are required by OSHA  to have a conventional filter with an efficiency rating of 99.00% or more. You can also use a HEPA filter with a rating of 99.97%, and airflow that equals or is greater than the amount advised by the tool manufacturer.

Trailer-Mounted and Skid-Mounted Industrial Vacuums

You can use industrial vacuums placed on trailers and skids for larger projects or if you have intensive clean-up requirements. Larger establishments with several places that need vacuuming from trailer-mounted industrial vacuums. While some competing models load onto hoppers that dump a dust cloud, the trailer-mounted vacuums’ adaptability allows you to fill bags without generating dust. There are robust yet portable skid-mounted electric variants if you don’t need a portable industrial vacuum unit. Both are excellent for removing dust buildup after a day of metal or sand casting.

Stationary and portable silica dust collection systems

To remove pollutants from the employees’ breathing zone in the event of airborne silica dust, dust collecting or mechanical ventilation devices should be available. Although Industrial Vacuum provides both portable and fixed dust collecting systems, foundries are most suitable for stationary equipment that you can place in the cleaning room.

You’ve seen the dangers of being exposed to respirable crystalline silica. Not only can respirable dust cause body disorders, but it can also result in life-threatening illnesses. Implement dust control methods to protect your employees and the surrounding communities.

Post Author: Jordyn Kyle