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SILIFE Project to Reduce Toxicity of Respirable Crystalline Silica

The Institute of Ceramic Technology (ITC) of the Universitat Jaume I de Castellón announced the legislative changes regarding exposure to respirable crystalline silica, whose toxicity has been tried to be reduced considerably under the European SILIFE project.

“The European Commission has published a few months ago a new amendment to the Directive regulating the exposure of workers to carcinogens and mutagens in their working environment, i.e. the Directive (EU) 2017/2398, including them as: ‘Work involving exposure to respirable crystalline silica dust generated in a work process’ as a carcinogen, and setting an occupational exposure limit of 0,1 mg/m3 to be reviewed in the next evaluation of the implementation of the Directive. The member countries have time until 17 January 2020 to transpose it into their respective legislation”, explained Eliseo Monfort, Professor of Chem­ical En­gin­eering at the Universitat Jaume I de Castellón, and Head of the Sustainability Area of the ITC, researcher and coordinator of the SILIFE project.
“On the other hand, the Royal Decree 1299/2006, which establishes the framework of occupational diseases in Spain, has been modified by the Royal Decree 257/2018. This new Royal Decree includes free silica dust as a causative agent of lung cancer. These new legislative developments make studies aimed at reducing exposure to respirable crystalline silica or reducing its toxicity particularly important, as in the case of the SILIFE project on which we are working firmly, and which we will soon be able to offer results”, says Prof. Monfort. The toxicity reduction due to respirable crystalline quartz silica is precisely one of the main objectives of the SILIFE project (LIFE14 ENV/ES/000238). That is why SILIFE focuses on producing commercial quartz powders with very low or no SCR toxicity.
To achieve this, a pilot plant for the treatment of commercial quartz powders has been designed, and is under construction. The treated quartz produced in this plant will be verified by industrial tests carried out by several end-users from different industrial sectors.
It is coordinated by the Institute of Ceramic Technology (ITC), and involves private companies such as the Spanish companies BLC, ABCR, ESMALGLASS-ITACA and FUMBARRI, as well as the Italian companies ­MAPEI and ELASTOMERS. Other participating research centres are the Italian CCB, and the German Fraunhofer-ITEM as well as the Spanish Platform for Industrial Safety (PESI), in order to combine their experience and resources to produce quartz on a commercial scale with zero or very low toxicity, minimising or eliminating the possibility of contracting diseases such as those mentioned above in the industrial environments of people exposed to these materials.

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