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Respirable Crystalline Silica
Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) refers to particles sufficiently small to stay air-born long enough to be inhaled and go deep into the lungs where they become lodged. Extended exposures to lower concentrations or less frequent exposures to higher concentrations can cause silicosis.
The World Health Organization page at http://www.who.int/occupational_health/publications/en/oehairbornedust3.pdf says that "particles with aerodynamic diameter >50 microns do not usually remain airborne very long: they have a terminal velocity >7cm/sec. However, depending on the conditions, particles even >100 mm may become (but hardly remain) airborne. Furthermore, dust particles are frequently found with dimensions considerably <1 micron and, for these, settling due to gravity is negligible for all practical purposes."
The European Industrial Minerals Association has a website dedicated to RCS. Among others, he page
http://www.crystallinesilica.eu/content/what-respirable-crystalline-silica-rcs defines Respirable Crystalline Silica is?
Many companies produce equipment to measure dust concentrations. For example
http://www.galsonlabs.ca/resourcecenter/bulletin.php?c=20 describes measuring dust samples. It says respirable dust particles are under 10 microns in diameter, thoracic dust particles are under 25 microns, and inhalable dust particles are under 100 microns.
N95 Particulate Respirator mask
This designation is an international standard for a general purpose respirator to filter out respirable quartz particles (which cause silicosis). Use one of these when working in a area where ventilation is insufficient to remove all of the dust. Use it also in circumstances where there is temporary generation of large quantities of dust. Do not wear this as a substitute for keeping floors and working areas clean.
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By Tony Hansen