1.2. Where do we find quartz/silica?
Constituting 12% of the Earth’s crust, quartz, the most common of the nine crystalline silica polymorphs, is the second most abundant mineral in nature. As a consequence, it is everywhere in our daily environment: on beaches and roads, in the fields, on athletics tracks and in the garden.
All mining and quarrying activities involve crystalline silica. Indeed it is present in all naturally occurring materials that have been mined from the ground for thousands of years: sand, gravel, dimension stones, metallic and non metallic mineral ores. Therefore, from traces to significant amounts, crystalline silica is present in commodities which are vital raw materials for modern technology and everyday life (see chapter “Applications”).
This led a socio-economic survey of crystalline silica usage to conclude that “if man wishes to live in silica free environment he must move to another planet“(B. Coope, 1998).