WHAT ARE THE DANGERS OF SILICOSIS?
What is silicosis?
Silicosis is a permanent lung disease caused by breathing in large amounts of silica (called crystalline silica), usually over many years.
A versatile mineral, silica is used to make kitchen benches, bathrooms, bricks, tiles and some plastics. But, when silica is cut, drilled or ground, tiny particles enter the air. These particles are so small they can be inhaled. Once inhaled, silica particles get stuck in the lungs, causing scarring and fluid build-up, making it hard to breathe.
What are the causes of silicosis?
Silica dust is dangerous when breathed, as it is 100 times smaller than a grain of sand.
Your exposure to silica dust is increased if you work in a job where you need to grind, crush, drill, break or mill material containing silica, such as:
- Working or cutting concrete or masonry
- Constructing and installing composite stone countertops
- Foundry casting
- Glass manufacturing
- Paving and surfacing, road construction
What are the signs and symptoms of silicosis?
People with silicosis are also at a higher risk of developing tuberculosis. There is no cure for silicosis, but it is 100% preventable. The three types of silicosis are:
|Acute silicosis||Within a few weeks or years of silica exposure||Cough
Sharp chest pain
|Chronic silicosis||10-30 years after silica exposure||Inflamed lungs
Low blood oxygen
|Accelerated silicosis||Within 10 years of frequent silica exposure||Swelling in the lungs
Swelling chest lymph nodes
What are the possible treatments for silicosis?
Silicosis can’t be cured, but there are treatments to help improve your symptoms and quality of life, such as medications, oxygen, or in severe cases, surgery.
It is so important to have proper ventilation and wear PPE if you are likely to be exposed to silica.