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Posted by Max Shelby  
Max Shelby May 23, 2010 03:15AM
I completely disagree with the authors classification as chert having "no adverse health effects."

The structure of chert, cryptocrystalline itself describes the problem: crystalline.

The main ingredient of chert is silica.

Health effects of inhaling silica, as in chert mining, are well established medical science.
Robert Simonoff June 27, 2010 12:36AM
While your statements about chert are true, I read the health information as:

No information on health risks for this material has been entered into the database. You should always treat mineral specimens with care.

Just because it has not been entered into the mindat database, it does not mean there is not a danger.There is a big danger in assuming that just because mindat does not have a health warning, that a mineral is entirely safe for all activities. I wonder if mindat is opening itself up to liability on this front?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/27/2010 12:37AM by Jessica and Robert Simonoff.
Rob Woodside June 30, 2010 06:13PM
Mindat management is too busy spending all the money they pay us to bother with adding anything to the database. Instead we have set up Mindat as a sort of Wiki thing so while we are off spending all our cash, people who take this stuff more seriously can add what they want.B)-
Rob Woodside June 30, 2010 06:24PM
I put a note in on silicosis and violated the policy stated under the health warnings:

"For health warnings, please leave blank unless there is specific and detailed information about the toxicity of this mineral (Do not just put 'toxic' or 'non-toxic'). Evidence of toxicity or other health isues should be backed up with references either in print or on the web"

Max, do you have any suitable references?
Alfredo Petrov June 30, 2010 06:56PM
We need some way of distinguishing adverse health effects from powder and from the actual mineral specimen. This site is mainly used by people with specimens, not those fabricating powders. Almost anything has adverse health effects when powder is inhaled, even wood and cotton, but that doesn't require putting warning labels on all my books and T-shirts, does it? A lot more common sense needs to be used in the whole panic-mongering phenomenon going on in society today. (As witness the recent California paranoia about serpentine rock.)
Alex Homenuke June 30, 2010 07:32PM
Chert specimens can cause serious problems for your digestive tract when you swallow them whole.Apparently birds can do this safely.
Alfredo Petrov June 30, 2010 08:59PM
Our ancestors probably suffered lots of cut fingers while making arrowheads too :)
Reiner Mielke June 30, 2010 09:10PM
Not to forget the effects of large particles of chert attached to sticks when applied forcefully to the head by angry natives! Ouch!
Amir C. Akhavan June 30, 2010 09:57PM
G.D. Guthrie, P.J. Heaney
Mineralogical characteristics of the silica polymorphs in relation to their biological activities
in: Second International Symposium on Silica, Silicosis, and Cancer
Los Alamos National Laboratory 1993

D.F. Goldsmith
Health effects of silica dust exposure
in: Reviews in Mineralogy, Vol.29
Silica - Physical behavior, geochemistry and materials applications
Mineralogical Society of America, Washington, D.C., 1994

There are of course a lot more studies, also more recently, just search on your favorite search engine...

Of course, I got a lot of silica at home and don't feel uncomfortable because of it.
But we should not forget that flint and chert are occasionally used in lapidary works and get cut and polished, so it does not hurt to mention that the dust does no good (which is perhaps true of many silicates that are somewhat stable in human tissue).
Rob Woodside June 30, 2010 10:11PM
Thanks Amir. I should probably put together a generic warning with these ref for all the Quartz. However I believe that you are right and probably all or most of the silicates should get this warning.
Donald Slater June 30, 2010 10:14PM
I once suffered a broken tow when I dropped a large chunk of chert on my foot. I wish someone have warned me it were so heavy and hard :-).
Amir C. Akhavan June 30, 2010 10:40PM
Your foot would have been hurt just as much if you dropped a hammer or a coke bottle on it.

The effect of silica dust on your health is much more specific than that. It is, for example, very different from that of cigarette smoke.
If a specific physiological effect is known for a mineral (good or bad) then it should be considered as interesting information about the mineral that can be added to the database. It might be put in a different section that is not read as a "warning".

A general warning "mineral dust should not be inhaled" is the way to deal with it from an insurance company mind's perspective.
Paul Brandes June 30, 2010 11:11PM
Just getting out of bed in the morning can be hazardous to your health too, but we all do it!! B)

I tend to agree with Rob and Alfredo on this one; I believe the management has much more pressing issues than worrying about the health effects of chert and fostering a sense of fear among its users.
Ralph Bottrill July 01, 2010 01:57AM
I guess all natural forms of silica should have a warning about the effects of their dust for silicosis, but its going to be a laborious job for all the myriad varieties - a generic warning on all mineral dusts may be best. Perhaps a specific health reference under quartz may be good, but I dont think we need anything specific for individual silicates (except those recognised as asbestos-related, etc).

Rock Currier July 01, 2010 10:18AM
I'm almost tempted to make up some official looking scary signs about the dangers of silica dust and go down to some of our local beaches at night and install them.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
David Von Bargen July 01, 2010 11:33AM
Well, according to prop 86, it can cause cancer.
Rock Currier July 01, 2010 11:48AM
See! thats the spirit, You can help me write up the text for the sign! And of course, there is a lot of decomposed serpentine that has set free billions of asbestos particles that have drifted down the coast to the Los Angeles area and all of that is in the sand as well, and of coarse lots of lead has been washing down the rivers in S. California, bring lead and other heavy metals, not to mention large numbers of toxic organic compounds with them when it rains! No one is safe!

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
Alfredo Petrov July 01, 2010 12:21PM
There are trillions of asbestos fibers in the waters of the Great Lakes. Perhaps if we jack up the sales tax to 25% the government could build giant filters to get them out. Meanwhile, how about some cheap warning signs?
Evan Johnson (2) July 01, 2010 01:07PM
Alternatively, we could under the heading for risks put a link to a centralised document that would discuss the (not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease or condition, with a strong disclaimer to that effect) potential toxicology of minerals. I'd be happy to write an overview when I can find time.

Marco Barsanti July 01, 2010 03:24PM
This fear of silica is sensate only if one works abitually with it and not if you have in your collection a chunk of every mineral which contains silica in your cabinet. Also the famous ACGIH (American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists) has proposed an occupational exposure limit (TLV-TWA) but for specific sector workers. Usually almost universally refer to internationally defined as "concentration time-weighted average, on a workday conventional of 8 hours and 40-hour week, which is considered that nearly all worker may be repeatedly exposed, day after day, without adverse effects. " The TLV-TWAper airborne crystalline silica takes today the value of 0.05 mg/m3 should be noted that the ACGIH does not propose a criterion to compare data with the experimental limit, does in fact large discretion industrial hygienist. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) proposes a TLV of 0.050 mg/m3 limit, but differs because dall'ACGIH indicates the need mediate on workdays of 10 hours. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends itself a threshold value equal to 0.04 mg/m3. So if there aren’t accanite lapidary hobbista which excess that limits, there should not be danger harming these materials..
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