Silica, Quartz, or SiO2 is a metal oxide which occurs as a clear to white mineral and is a key mineral component of most rocks found in the earth’s crust. Its Chemical Abstracts Service Number (CAS #) is 7631-86-9.
Silica or quartz is a dominant mineral in sandstone and quartzite deposits which are ubiquitous in geological formations throughout the world and make up the greater part of most quartzites, sandstones, beach sand, and river sand deposits.
Silica has a Specific Gravity of 2.65 and a hardness of 7 on the MOH Hardness Scale.
Silica is general inert under most normal conditions at the earth’s surface. It has a boiling point of 2 230 degrees centigrade. It is resistant to most acids and alkaline substances, but will dissolve in hydrofluoric acid.
This mineral is used extensively in glass manufacture, building, construction, filtration systems, fertilizers, crockery manufacture, glazing, tiling and abrasives.
Health and Safety Aspects
The prolonged inhalation of dusts containing free silica may result in the development of disabling pulmonary fibrosis known as silicosis. Silica is the chief cause of pulmonary dust disease and precautions should be taken at all times when working in an environment in which there is silica dust.
When working with silica and silica products it is advised to work in well ventilated areas and dust masks, eye protection, and appropriate clothing should be worn at all times.
Personnel working silica material who are exposed to silica dust for long periods should undergo regular medical testing.
Silica rock and sand products are generally rough and abrasive and may cause irritation to the skin and eyes. Washing with water should be undertaken to remove the source of irritation, and gloves and eye protection should be used when handling and working with this product.