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    Blog - Slip Testing

    New NATA Accreditation for XRD Silica Testing

    Posted 16th July 2020, Carl Strautins

    Safe Environments Sydney Occupational Hygiene Laboratory passed with flying colours as part of a variation to its scope of accreditation by the National association of Testing Authorities (NATA) for the analysis of alpha quartz by X-ray diffraction (XRD). Alpha quartz is the most common polymorph of Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) that can cause serious respiratory disease. Occupational Hygiene Laboratory and Inspection Services are available and open to the public in assessing the risk of workplace exposures to crystalline silica for all clients and projects.

    A ubiquitous material, crystalline silica is a polymorph of silicon dioxide, one of the most abundant naturally occurring crystalline minerals on the surface of the earth. Crystalline silica is found within soil, rocks concrete, stone, aggregates and other building materials. Alpha quartz and cristobalite are the main forms of crystalline silica with the third most prevalent being tridymite. The exposure standards for all forms of respirable crystalline silica have recently been reduced to 0.05 mg/m3 by Safe Work Australia.
    The new edition of state-of-the-art analytical XRD equipment is a non-destructive technique that is powerful in characterising crystalline materials. The new XRD equipment facilitates the lowest detection limits which were previously unavailable using FTIR. This is particularly important given the reduction of the exposure standard to 0.05 mg/m3 in NSW.

    Crystalline silica exposure from quartz or cristobalite is carcinogenic to humans and has been confirmed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Exposure to crystalline silica can occur from work activities involving tunnelling, excavation, stone processing, paving, manufacturing, mining and construction. Even simply cutting stone, bricks and concrete can cause massive sponsors that may affect the health of workers.

    The NATA audit revealed there being no non-conformances with Safe Environments set to be the first laboratory in Australia to be accredited to the NHMRC Methods For Measurement of Quartz in Respirable Airborne Dust by Infrared Spectroscopy and X-Ray Diffractometry (XRD) and the International Standard ISO 16258-1 Workplace air — Analysis of respirable crystalline silica by X-ray diffraction — Part 1: Direct-on-filter method using XRD.

    In response to the silicosis epidemic Safe Environments is the only company in Australia accredited to ISO 17020 to inspect workplaces for crystalline silica and assess conformance with Workplace Exposure Standards (WES) using both FTIR and XRD.

    Safe Environments NATA accredited crystalline silica testing and consulting services are governed by Mr Carl Strautins, a Certified Occupational Hygienist (COH), Certified Materials Professional (CMatP) and is a qualified epidemiologist with a Master’s in Science in Medicine.


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