Silicon dioxide:chemical compound | Why is silicon dioxide added to food?

Silicon dioxide (SiO2)


Silicon dioxide (SiO2), often known as silica, is the type of quartz that is most frequently discovered in nature..The primary component of sand in many places of the world is silica. One of the most diverse and common families of materials, silica can be found naturally as well as in synthetic form. It is also one of the most complicate and prolific families of materials. The following are notable examples: fused quartz, fumed silica, silica gel, opal, and aerogels. It serves as an electrical insulator in microelectronics and is utilised as a component in the food and pharmaceutical sectors. It is also employed in structural materials.

Characteristics and structure


silicon dioxide
silicon dioxide
Sio2 structure
Sio2 structure


Each silicon atom in silicon dioxide is connected to four oxygen atoms in a tetrahedral arrangement, forming a network solid. Additionally bound to one another, the oxygen atoms create a continuous three-dimensional network. Silica’s high melting point (1,710 °C) and high hardness (7 on the Mohs scale) are both a result of its network structure.

The characteristics of silicon dioxide make it an extremily adaptable materials. It has no colour, smell, or transparency. It is a good choice for usage in food and medicinal applications because it is also chemically inert. A good thermal and electrical insulator is silica.


After oxygen, silicon dioxide is the element with the second-highest abundance in the Earth’s crust. It can be discovered in a number of minerals, including as mica, feldspar, and quartz. Sand and sandstone both primarily consist of the mineral silica.


Sand, quartzite, and feldspar are just a few of the materials that can be used to create silicon dioxide. The most typical techniquee of manufacture involves heating the raw materials to a high temperature in a furnace. The silica melts as a result of this action, then solidifies as a glass-like substances.


A wide number of industries employ silicon dioxide. Its most typical applications include the following:


Glass mostly consists of SiO2. Numerous glass goods, such as windows, bottles, and dinner ware, are made from it.


Numerous ceramic items, such as bricks, tiles, and pottery, are made using SiO2.
Metals Products including silicon carbide, silicon nitride, and SiO2 ceramics are made from SiO2.


Electronic parts including capacitors, insulators, and semiconductors are all made with SiO2.
food products and medications In both food and medicine, SiO2 is utilised as an ingredient. It functions as a thickening, a stabiliser, and an anticaking agent.


In general, SiO2 is regarded as secure. However, excessive amounts of it might be dangerous if inhaled. Silicosis is a lung condition that can be fatal and is brought on by prolonged exposure to silica dust.


silicon dioxide’s negative health effects

Depending on the silica’s shape and how it’s inhaled, silicon dioxide can have negative health impacts. Crystalline silica, a known carcinogen, can cause lung cancer, silicosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Amorphous silica can nevertheless irritate the eyes, nose, and throat even though it is less likely to result in these health problems.

being exposed to silicon dioxide

People may be exposed to silicon dioxide at work, in the environment, and in some consumer goods. People are primarily exposed to crystalline silica while work. The biggest risk of exposure is to those working in silica-using or -producing sectors such mining, quarrying, manufacturing, and building.

Crystalline silica can also be found in the environment and be exposed to people. Mining, quarrying, and other industrial processes can emit silica dust into the air. Natural processes like volcanic eruptions and dust storms can also emit it.

Additionally, numerous consumer goods like face powder, paint, and toothpaste contain silicon dioxide. These goods typically contain very little silica, which is not thought to pose a health risk.

How to lessen silicon dioxide exposure

People can take a number of actions to lessen their exposure to silicon dioxide. These consist of:

Stay away from jobs that subject you to crystalline silica.
putting on a respirator when working with products that include silica.
After touching objects containing silica, wash your hands.
Keep your home and workplace tidy to reduced the quantity of dust there is.


A 0.05 mg/m3 acceptable exposure limit (PEL) for crystalline silica has been established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as an 8 hours time-weighted average (TWA).

This indicates that no longer than eight hours per day should employees be expozed to more crystalline silica than 0.05 mg/m3.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for crystalline silica at 0.1 mg/m3 on an one year average.

Therefore, during the course of a year, the average crystalline silica content in the air should not exceed 0.1 mg/m3.


Numerous techniques can be used to test for Silicon dioxide exposure. The most common method is to collect an air sample and determine the amount of silica dust present. This can be done using a variety of methods, including filter sampling, impinger sampling, and gravimetric analysis.

Another way to determine whether someone has been exposed to silicon dioxide is to measure the amount of silica in the blood or urine. A few methods that can be used for this are X-ray fluorescence, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, and atomic absorption spectroscopy.


Although there is no known cure for silicosis, there are therapies that can lessen the symptoms. These therapies consist of:

  • Extra oxygen is given to the lungs during oxygen treatment, which can assist to lessen inflammation and facilitate breathing.
  • Medication: A number of drugs, including bronchodilators and steroids, can be used to treat the signs and symptoms of silicosis.
  • Surgery: In some circumstances, surgery may be required to remove scar tissue from the lungs.


Avoiding exposure to crystalline silica is the most effective method of silicosis prevention. By following the recommendations listed below, those who are exposed to crystalline silica can lower their chance of contracting silicosis:

  • A respirator will assist in removing silica dust from the air, so wear one.
  • Wash your hands frequently to keep skin free of silica dust.
  • Maintain a spotless workspace to help lower the amount of dust.

Silica crystals

A silica variety with a regular, repeating structure is called crystalline silica. Numerous minerals include it, such as tridymite, cristobalite, and quartz. The most dangerous form of silica is crystalline silica, which can lead to silicosis, a potentially fatal lung condition.

Aggregate silica

The structure of amorphous silica is not predictable or repetitive. It can be found in a variety of substances, such as sand, glass, and concrete. Although less dangerous than crystalline silica, amorphous silica can nevertheless irritate the eyes, nose, and throat.


A lung condition known as silicosis is brought on by repeated exposure to crystalline silica dust. It may be challenging to breathe if the dust causes lung inflammation and scarring. Silicosis is potentially lethal.

Silicosis symptoms

Silicosis symptoms typically appear over a long period of time. Early signs could include:

  • Cough
  • breathing difficulty
  • Fatigue
  • chest discomfort

Symptoms of the condition may worsen and include the following:

  • Sweating at night
  • lose weight
  • Fingers are clubbed together.
  • The discovery of silicosis

A CT scan or chest X-ray can be used to diagnose silicosis. Lung scarring could be visible on an X-ray or CT scan. The presence of silica in the blood can also be determined using a blood test.

A silicosis treatment programme

  1. The disease silicosis cannot be cured. The goals of treatment are to reduce symptoms and stop additional lung damage. Treatment options include:
  2. Extra oxygen is given to the lungs during oxygen treatment, which can assist to lessen inflammation and improve breathing.
  3. Medication: A variety of drugs, including bronchodilators and steroids, can be used to treat the signs and symptoms of silicosis.
  4. Surgery: To eliminate scar tissue from the lungs in some circumstances, surgery may be required.
  5. The avoidance of silicosis Avoiding exposure to crystalline silica is the best strategy to prevent silicosis. By adopting the following actions if you are exposed to crystalline silica, you can lower your risk of getting silicosis:
  6. A respirator will assist in removing silica dust from the air, so wear one.
  7. Wash your hands frequently to keep skin free of silica dust.
  8. Maintain a spotless workspace to help lower the amount of dust.


With many application, SiO2 is a useful and vital substance. When used correctly, it is a harmless materials, but excessive amounts breathed might be dangerous.




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