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Construction Workers’ Exposure to Crystalline Silica – Literature Review and Analysis

respirator-protection-productsVery widespread, crystalline silica is an important component of materials commonly used in the construction industry, namely sand, concrete and brick. Its prolonged inhalation at high concentrations can cause a lung disease called silicosis. This substance is also known to be carcinogenic when inhaled in the workplace, and deaths are associated with it.

The construction industry is complex with a multitude of trades, tasks, materials and tools that can be linked to exposure to crystalline silica. Occupational health professionals in Québec do not have a knowledge summary that would allow preventive actions to be ranked in relation to the Québec reality in this activity sector. The general objective of this study was to produce such a profile; the more specific objectives were to identify the positions and duties most at risk in relation to their exposure level; to identify the various means of controlling exposure while documenting their effectiveness; and to develop a relational database on the exposure to silica dusts, compiling the literature data in a form usable by researchers or preventionists. To interpret the exposure levels presented in the tables appended to this report, knowledge about the described data selection criteria is essential.

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