Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New quartz references for workplace safety

Chemists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a new set of reference materials that could contribute to significant improvements in workplace safety through more accurate measurement of the amount of quartz dust in the air.

Crystalline silica or quartz is one of the most common minerals on Earth. When finely powdered silica gets in the air it becomes a significant health hazard. Respirable quartz is associated with the development of silicosis, lung cancer, pulmonary tuberculosis and other airway diseases.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has estimated that at least 1.7 million U.S. workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in a variety of industries and occupations, including construction, sandblasting and mining (1991 data). Other industries with significant exposure include building construction and medical and dental laboratories. To help safeguard workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces strict regulatory limits on the emission of respirable crystalline silica in the work place.

Monitoring silica dust in the workplace typically is done by collecting samples over a period of hours on a special air filter and using X-ray diffraction (XRD) to determine the amount of silica present in the sample. To be effective, monitoring requires accurate measurements of micrograms of silica on the filters, which in turn requires precise calibration of the measurement system. NIOSH has identified calibration errors as a significant factor in inconsistent results from different laboratories.

To help environmental laboratories perform these demanding calibrations, NIST has developed a series of Standard Reference Materials (SRMs) with precisely measured quantities of respirable quartz deposited on typical filters. The NIST materials cover the range between 5 micrograms and 1000 micrograms of quartz per filter, the typical range encountered in the field, and can be used to validate the accuracy of lab measurements needed to meet OSHA regulations. The reduction to ash technique must be used to prepare the quartz-on-filter specimens for XRD measurements. Details on SRM series 2950--2958, "Respirable Alpha Quartz on Filter Media" are available at

A related series of reference materials using cristobalite, the second-most important form of respirable crystalline silica, also is being developed. Standard Reference Materials are among the most widely distributed and used products from NIST. The agency prepares, analyzes and distributes well over a thousand different materials that are used throughout the world to check the accuracy of instruments and test procedures.

Michael Baum | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht 3-D-printed structures shrink when heated
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts Institute of Technology

nachricht From ancient fossils to future cars
21.10.2016 | University of California - Riverside

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>