Silica is a common name for the compound silicon dioxide (SiO2). It is a common and naturally occurring mineral, found in almost all rocks and soils, often found in the form of a mineral called quartz.
Fine silica particles that are smaller than or equal to 10 micrometres in size are called respirable crystalline silica (RCS), also known as fine crystalline silica, and can be inhaled deep into the lungs. Particles this small cannot be seen with the naked eye.
Silicosis is a lung disease associated with occupations that involve the fracturing of rocks which contain silica minerals (quartz, cristobalite and tridymite). Management of dust to mitigate any elevated RCS risk for mine and quarry workers in proximity to dust generation activities, and therefore for more-distantly located members of the public, is mandated across South Australia.
Further information about concerns relating to respirable crystalline silicosis (RCS) can be found in the information sheet Silicosis in mining and quarrying in South Australia (PDF 624.1 KB), developed by the Department for Energy and Mining (DEM) in collaboration with Environment Protection Authority (EPA), SA Health, SafeWork SA and the Mining and Quarrying Occupational Health and Safety Committee (MAQOHSC).