Quartz is employed as a raw material, and released into the atmosphere in the form of quartz dust, in a wide range of processes. Exposure to respirable fine quartz dust at workplaces is still significant, despite the concerted efforts undertaken to reduce the dust exposure. Silicosis remains relevant as an occupational disease, with a high annual number of reported suspected and confirmed cases. In the light of this situation, a need existed for a general survey of the quartz issue, to serve as a basis for the management of preventive measures and monitoring of exposure, for quantifying past exposure to quartz in the context of cases of suspected occupational disease, and also for input into the discussion by expert bodies during ongoing development of the technical regulations governing hazardous substances. A new BGIA Report dealing with quartz exposure at the workplace was to provide basic data for this purpose.
Over 3,000 quartz dust measurements are conducted each year in various sectors and working areas within the BGMG - the BG measurement system of hazardous substances. The quartz data documented in the MEGA exposure database (process, exposure and sampling data, and measured values) were evaluated statistically. The results of these evaluations formed the basis for description of the exposure situations during various periods, and at the same time formed the core of the report.
The data were analyzed statistically by means of the MEGA-software developed at the BG Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BGIA). The data sets were categorized by sector: extraction and processing of minerals and earths, extraction of silica sand, ceramics and glass industry, foundries, metals production and processing, electrical and precision engineering, chemical industry, construction industry including tunnelling; and also by areas of activity and the period of data collection.
The BGIA Report entitled "Quartz exposure at the workplace" will provide information on physical properties and material data, health hazards and occupational diseases, limit values and regulations, sampling and analysis methods, on quartz deposits and use of the material, and on its incidence and exposure to it in industrial sectors and areas of activity.
The core of the report are descriptions of exposure and measured values for specific sectors and areas of activity. Explanations are provided of modern activities involving exposure; information is provided on protective measures, and at the same time on the state of art. Reference is made to the measured values. The 104 000 mean shift values for quartz and the respirable dust fraction which are listed in the descriptions of exposure are the results of measurements conducted in around 8900 plants, classified by industrial sector and working area, in the context of the quality-assured BGMG measurement system.
Potential uses for this report arise in particular with regard to performance of the hazard assessments required under the hazardous substance legislation and for discussions and comments during the drafting of regulations.
The report provides an index by working area for the control of preventive measures and for exposure monitoring, which facilitates comparisons with the situation currently encountered in plants.
-cross sectoral-Type of hazard:
Gefahrstoffe, Arbeitsbedingte GesundheitsgefahrenCatchwords:
Chemische Arbeitsstoffe, BelastungDescription, key words:
substance information, health hazards, limit values, measurement method, uses and incidence, exposure data