• Glass is a solid translucent material with widespread applications.


  • The most commonly used form of glass is known as soda-lime-silica, which is produced predominantly by melting silica sand, but also uses sodium oxide, lime, magnesia, and alumina.


  • Silica sand is produced through the mining and purification of quartz. 1 The main environmental impacts of glass production are are noise pollution, water consumption, pollution, Nitrogen Oxide air pollution, and dust from cutting produced glass. 2

Human Health

  • Studies show long-term exposure to NO2 levels may decrease lung function and increase the risk of respiratory symptoms such as acute bronchitis and cough and phlegm, particularly in children.3 Similarly, silica dust particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause disabling and sometimes fatal lung diseases, including silicosis and lung cancer, as well as kidney disease.4

Social Equity        

  • Glass production is predominantly in New Zealand, and has been for over one hundred of years, making it a main source of employment.6

Safe Use and Exposure

  • Use gloves when handling glass with sharp edges, and wear a protective mask when cutting to avoid inhalation of dust.

Proper disposal

  • All glass should be disposed in a properly marked recycling bin. Broken glass should be disposed in a paper bag, and large glass items can be disposed of by contacting your local waste management company.

Safe Alternatives

  • Glass is generally much safer than the heavily processed translucent alternatives, such as acrylic sheet. When buying glass, look for recycled glass or support upcoming technologies, such as glass made of natural molecules.5


  1. “Silica”, Ulman’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry,
  2. “Glass Production”, Wikipedia,
  3. “Air Pollution Nitrogen Dioxide”,,
  4. “Safety and Health Topics: Silica, Crystalline”,,
  5. “Environmentally Friendly Acrylic Glass Made Of Sugar: New Enzyme Could Revolutionize Production Of Plastics”, Science Daily,
  6. Glass Manufacture (IX Inorganic Materials A Glass 2),