Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Public Health (M.S.P.H.)

Degree Granting Department

Public Health

Major Professor

Steven Mlynarek, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Thomas Bernard, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Yehia Hammad, Sc.D.


Occupational Silica Exposure, Novel Sand Coating Technology, Reduced Exposure


The health effects of silica and the connection to occupational exposure has been known for years. In March of 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the Department of Labor (DOL) published a new standard meant to reduce workers’ exposure to silica. The standard update was set forth to further protect workers; OSHA estimates this revision will prevent more than 600 silica-related deaths each year.

A key feature of the updated OSHA standard emphasizes the use of engineering controls and work practices in certain industries. Material handling of industrial sand is a known cause of silica overexposure in many industries. A novel sand coating technology designed as an engineering control has been tested to reduce worker exposure to airborne silica. This study looked at whether the airborne silica concentrations could be reduced by applying this technology. Area air samples were collected for baseline samples along with coated samples, which were analyzed for respirable dust. The percent reduction was calculated to determine if the coating was able to reduce the airborne silica concentration.

This study found that the application of the coating was able to reduce the airborne silica concentration, but the reduction did not meet the benchmark of 80% as set forth for the study. Additional studies to refine application and dosage of the sand coating may result in meeting this benchmark in future studies. Study limitations include small sample size and the truncated sampling time period for some of the samples collected, along with meteorological and site conditions.

Included in

Public Health Commons