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January 4, 2011

MADISON -- The public has an opportunity to review and comment on a draft study by state air quality officials on the possible health effects of exposure to silica in the outdoor air.

Silica is a compound made up of silicon and oxygen atoms and can be both naturally occurring and man-made. It is present in the environment in both crystalline and amorphous forms; only the crystalline form is of concern as an air pollutant. Ambient sources of silica include mining and rock crushing, construction, foundries, glass manufacturing, abrasive blasting, or other uses of sand and quartz.

"While health officials generally do not consider ambient exposures to silica, a known carcinogen, to pose a health risk to the general public, data from some states shows emissions from some industrial facilities could result in levels of concern for people living near the sources," said Jeff Meyers, an environmental toxicologist with the Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Air Management.

The study focuses on exposure to silica in the outdoor air. DNR has the responsibility and authority only to manage outdoor, or ambient, air quality and not indoor air quality.

The draft silica study [pdf; 2.3 MB] is available for review on the air management pages of the DNR website.

After reviewing the study, individuals can go to an online questionnaire to submit comments on the draft. Supporting data, studies or other relevant information can be submitted via e-mail or post to: Jeff Myers, Wisconsin DNR - AM/7, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921 or send them by e-mail to [].

Submissions will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 18.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: John Melby, 608-264-8884

Last Revised: Tuesday, January 04, 2011

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