Silica exposure occurs when dust that contains crystalline silica particles is inhaled. It is estimated that approximately 1,200,000 workers are exposed to silica each year. Silica, or silicon dioxide, is a naturally occurring mineral that is composed of one silicon atom and two oxygen atoms. When silica molecules line up and create a repeating pattern they form a crystal (crystalline silica). Different crystal patterns are given different names; the most common is quartz. Silica is a major component of sand and granite.
Materials that contain crystalline silica:
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