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A WORLD WITH SILICA

ASilicon accompanies humanity. From the Neolithic to the electronic revolution, it has shown its usefulness, usually combined with oxygen in the form of quartz or silicate, but also as a chemical element with interesting properties.

Today, silicon dioxide or crystalline silica, continues to accompany us in all types of industries, being present in a huge amount of natural environments; the beach and the mountains, and it can be predicted that it will continue to be a key element for our civilization at least in the medium term.

The finer fractions of crystalline silica, called "respirable" can cause pathologies when they enter the pulmonary alveoli. For this reason, and after several years of scientific and legal debate, in the European framework, Royal Decree 1154/2020, of December 22, was published, which modifies Royal Decree 665/1997, on the protection of workers against risks related to exposure to carcinogens at work. related to exposure to carcinogens at work.

Thus, Directive 2017/2398 is transposed into Spanish law, which in turn modifies Directive 2004/27 / EC, on the protection of workers against the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work.

The consolidated text of RD 665/1997, includes, in its annex I, the list of substances, mixtures and procedures and, in its annex III, the Environmental Limit Values ​​(VLA) of occupational exposure for carcinogens. With this modification, the legislator intends to increase the level of protection of the health and safety of workers at work. The project also establishes, among other matters, that the VLA are protected in a current legal text. On the other hand, it implements the limit value of Silica at 0.1 mg / m3 until December 31, 2021, at which point a value of 0.05 mg / m3 would be established.

This new regulatory framework is mandatory and affects all industries where respirable crystalline silica dust is generated. As we know, iron foundries use crucible induction furnaces to melt iron. These furnaces are mostly lined with siliceous material, some of which may be in the form of breathable quartz (or cristobalite).

The use in furnaces of products based on quartzite (siliceous mineral) provides important metallurgical and operational advantages:

- high refractoriness, greater than iron.

- compatible with process and generated slags

- stable in the melting range of the metal

- excellent functional and operational performance

- enables agile installation and demolition

- 100% natural material, with low ecological impact, according to current concepts

Obviously, these advantages must be compatible with all the guarantees of personal well-being, and in this sense it should be noted that INSERTEC has been instilling the culture of Health and Safety for many years in the responsible use of siliceous products in foundry.

As early as 2007, we gave a first day at AZTERLAN-Durango, with great attendance and with the presence of Mr. Francis Morral, a member of the British Ceramic Society and one of the parents of NEPSI.

After that day, a lot of dissemination and technical-preventive contributions have been carried out, with associations and federation of smelters in several European countries as well as assistances to clients These years have also been characterized by the active presence of INSERTEC in European forums, combining efforts of Disclosure on silica with other refractory manufacturers in the PRE field.

The world as we understand it today would be impossible without silicon and crystalline silica. The present and the future will continue to talk about crystalline silica. Therefore, LIVING with this material is presented as a necessity of our society.

In the next chapters we will go into detail about what crystalline silica is, how we should install it correctly in siliceous materials, how to demolish a lining, the importance of aspiration, the necessary PPE and other matters of interest. We will try to give touches of good practices whose correct compliance will ensure that the protection of the workers in charge of demolishing and installing the furnace is maximum and complying with the established legal limits.