A worker in Claysville, Pa., shovels the fine powder that's part of a watery mixture used in hydraulic fracturing. Silica dust is created in a wide variety of construction and manufacturing industries, too.
Keith Srakocic A worker in Claysville, Pa., shovels the fine powder that's part of a watery mixture used in hydraulic fracturing. Silica dust is created in a wide variety of construction and manufacturing industries, too.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced their final ruling on silica dust which dramatically reduces the allowed exposure limits for workers in multiple industries. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez spoke on the rule on silica dust not changing since the 1970s and the need to cut exposure at construction sites from 250 micrograms of silica per cubic meter of air to 50 micrograms, which the rule does.

While Perez notes that the new ruling will save lives, industry groups aren't as happy about the changes.

Brian Turmail, a spokesman for the Associated General Contractors of America, says if a dust-producing part of a construction site has to be cordoned off and put off-limits to all workers except those in protective gear, "you would delay or lengthen the time it takes to complete projects. And certainly the cost of building any type of construction project — because virtually every type of construction project is going to create dust — will go up significantly."

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