Inhaling silica dust can lead to silicosis, an incurable lung disease that can be fatal if severe enough. Those with too much silica exposure can also develop lung cancer, kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The existing standard requires that silica dust particles, which are 100 times smaller than sand granules, be limited to 250 micrograms per cubic meter of air over an average of eight hours — the hours of a typical work shift. The new standard reduces that to 50 micrograms over the same time period.
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