- Silicosis is a fatal respiratory illness caused by inhaling fine silica dust through prolonged exposure in sandstone mines and quarries.
- Silica is a highly common, crystal-like mineral found in sand, rock, and quartz.
- Silica can have deadly consequences for people who work with stone, concrete, glass, or other forms of rock.
- Any level of silica exposure can result in silicosis. There are three types of silicosis:
- Acute: Acute silicosis forms a few weeks or months after high levels of silica exposure. This condition progresses rapidly.
- Accelerated: Accelerated silicosis comes on five to 10 years after exposure.
- Chronic: Chronic silicosis occurs 10 years or more after silica exposure. Even low exposure levels can cause chronic silicosis.
- Silica dust particles act as tiny blades on the lungs.
- These particles create small cuts that can scar the lung tissue when inhaled through the nose or mouth. Scarred lungs do not open and close as well, making breathing more difficult.
- Silica is called as a “carcinogen.” This means that silica can cause cancer, including lung cancer.
- Workers can wear special masks called respirators to keep from inhaling silica. These masks may be marked for “abrasive blasting” use.
- Water sprays and wet cutting methods reduce the risk of silica exposure.
- Workplaces should meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.
- This includes proper ventilation.
- Employers can monitor air quality at worksites to ensure that there’s no excess silica in the air.
- Employers must report all diagnosed incidents of silicosis.
- Workers should eat, drink, and smoke away from dust that may contain silica.
- They should also wash their hands before doing any of these activities to clear their hands of any dust.
Section : Social Issues