It is present abundantly in the earth’s crust and appears in two major forms such as crystalline and non-crystalline silica
It is the second most common mineral found in the earth’s crust. Crystalline silica forms 12% of the earth’s crust and is the main component of beach sand. The three main types of crystalline silica are quartz, tridymite, and cristobalite. Quartz, which is the most common form of crystalline silica is found in sand, stone, soil, gravel, granite, clay, diatomaceous earth, and other types of rock. Non-crystalline silica can be found in materials such as glass, silicone, and silicon carbide.
The crystalline type of silica is used at construction sites and in most industrial products, commodities such as glass, ceramics, plastics, and paints. Workers at construction sites are exposed to silica while cutting, drilling, sanding, grinding, mixing, and demolishing silica-containing materials. Certain operations such as foundry work use industrial sand and are a source of crystalline silica exposure. Quartz dust is microscopic because of which it can be inhaled into the lungs while breathing and is known as respirable crystalline silica.
Crystalline silica is detrimental to respiratory health. The prolonged exposure to excessive amounts of fine crystalline silica dust can cause an occupational disease called silicosis.