Engineering controls for selected silica and dust exposures in the construction industry--a review

Appl Occup Environ Hyg. 2003 Apr;18(4):268-77. doi: 10.1080/10473220301406.


This literature review summarizes engineering control technology research for dust and silica exposures associated with selected tasks in the construction industry. Exposure to crystalline silica can cause silicosis and lung fibrosis, and evidence now links it with lung cancer. Of over 30 references identified and reviewed, 16 were particularly significant in providing data and analyses capable of documenting the efficacy of various engineering controls. These reports include information on generation rates and worker exposures to silica and dust during four different tasks: cutting brick and concrete block, grinding mortar from between bricks, drilling, and grinding concrete surfaces. The major controls are wet methods and local exhaust ventilation. The studies suggest that while the methods provide substantial exposure reductions, they may not reduce levels below the current ACGIH threshold limit value (TLV) of 0.05 mg/m(3) for respirable quartz. Although further research on controls for these operations is indicated, it is clear that effective methods exist for significant exposure reduction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / adverse effects*
  • Construction Materials / adverse effects
  • Dust*
  • Facility Design and Construction
  • Humans
  • Industry*
  • Lung Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / chemically induced
  • Silicon Dioxide / adverse effects*
  • Silicosis / etiology
  • Workforce


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Dust
  • Silicon Dioxide