Silica isn’t the new asbestos

It’s been said hundreds of times…

Silica is the new asbestos.

But what if it’s not? What if there’s really nothing new about silica in relation to asbestos?

The link between the two is even closer than you may think.

What really is asbestos?

Most people know asbestos as the dangerous insulator used in construction, responsible for over 5,000 related disease-deaths per year, typically lung cancer and asbestosis.

However, in its natural form, asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous silicate mineral.

Put simply, silicate minerals make up asbestos fibres.

Asbestos is actually just one of the many different forms of silicate materials, in the same way that silica is.

The similarities between silica and asbestos are much closer than people are aware of.

SO WHAT?

There is a different attitude towards asbestos compared to silica.

The dangers of exposure to asbestos are well documented.

Exposure to asbestos can cause serious lung conditions, including asbestosis and mesothelioma. It is the number 1 cause of recorded work-related deaths in the world.

Most people in the UK are aware of its dangers, particularly as asbestos was banned in 1999 for construction work in the UK.

Yet despite all of this, very few people are aware of how dangerous exposure to silica dust is, despite the fact that asbestos fibres are made up of silicate materials, in the same way silica is.

There are many more dangers relating to silica than people may be aware of.

Let’s put this into perspective

Imagine you are working on refurbishing your bathroom and from the grinding of the ceramic sink and a load of dust becomes airborne.

If you were told that this airborne dust which you were inevitably inhaling was asbestos, you’d probably run a mile. Right?

And who could blame you? A dust which is responsible for approximately 90,000 asbestos-related diseases per year. You’d want to get as far away from it as possible.

Well, it’s likely that that dust in your bathroom would in fact be silica dust.

A dust which made up of silicate materials in the same way asbestos fibres are. A dust which is just as lethal, if not more lethal, in comparison to asbestos dust.

But because it isn’t known to people as being the same as asbestos, the dangers seem to be less of a concern to people.

The issue is much wider than this…

It’s time to get real and become aware of just how dangerous silica dust is.

It is reported that, in crystalline form, respirable crystalline silica (RCS) is responsible for the death of 600 people per year in Great Britain with 450 of those to workers in construction industry.

The importance of the dangers of silica must be realised, especially with what is known about how dangerous asbestos is.

Don’t let history repeat itself

Asbestos is just as lethal as silica. The dangers are the same, yet we cannot afford for the results of silica exposure to be the same as what occurred with asbestos.

Silica could be as lethal as asbestos, if not more so, with equally serious consequences.

Being aware of the issue is the start, action must be taken to protect workers from this dangerous dust.

We cannot afford to let history repeat itself.

Let’s get real on silica.