IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

Review and analysis of the literature on construction workers’ exposure to crystalline silica


Very widespread, crystalline silica is an important component of materials commonly used in the construction industry, namely sand, concrete and brick. Its prolonged inhalation at high concentrations can cause a lung disease called silicosis. This substance is also known to be carcinogenic when inhaled in the workplace, and deaths are associated with it.

The construction industry is complex with a multitude of trades, tasks, materials and tools that can be linked to exposure to crystalline silica. Occupational health professionals in Québec do not have a knowledge summary that would allow preventive actions to be ranked in relation to the Québec reality in this activity sector. The general objective of this study was to produce such a profile; the more specific objectives were to identify the positions and duties most at risk in relation to their exposure level; to identify the various means of controlling exposure while documenting their effectiveness; and to develop a relational database on the exposure to silica dusts, compiling the literature data in a form usable by researchers or preventionists. To interpret the exposure levels presented in the tables appended to this report, knowledge about the described data selection criteria is essential.

Additional Information

Type: Project
Number: 0099-7530
Status: Completed
Year of completion: 2011
  • Chantal Dion (IRSST)
  • Michel Gérin (Université de Montréal)
  • Charles Beaudry (Université de Montréal)
  • Guy Perrault (Guy Perrault, Consultation en R&D et expertise en SST)