t "respirable crystallized silica (RCS)" is nasty stuff and best avoided if possible. Folks who work as sandblasters, for example--day in and day out for YEARS--are at risk for silicosis.
But here's my question for you: How do you know that the Playa contains RCS?
. From my research, it looks like it's next to impossible to determine whether a sample has it or not. See Table 3 in this chart to see what I mean. http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/silicacrystall ... index.html
So, how do you know?
Exactly. Particle size is everything.
Why do I suspect it may be fine enough to pose a risk? A few things: Believe it or don't I've read that even the talcum powder people use to dust their baby's ass posing a risk. The thick coat of stuff on your car at the end of the week has about the same consistency as talcum. very fine.
I also note how much stuff you see at night when there really isn't any wind - the particles are just sort of floating there. Again that means they are small enough to get aspirated.
Comparable risks - farmers. Out plowing their fields with a thick cloud of dust around their tractor. (One of the occupations with a higher risk of developing silicosis because dust that is fine enough to easily float about is fine enough to cause the disease.)
Finally all the people that develop "playa lung". Which is either simple infectious spread from so many people in close proximity and immune systems taking a hit after a week of 'living large' or it's from the dust. As far as the dust both the silica and the fine organic matter is a possible culprit.
So yeah, ET is a little OCD there. It happens. I remember the time I was waiting for my first HIV test to come back (after plenty of exposure working at Highland Hospital in East bay.) Paranoid fantasies gone wild for a while.
I just wear a 2 band dust mask (suitable for drywall) during storms. I also wear both ear plugs and earphones when running a chainsaw or shooting, so I guess I'm more careful than many with these things.