Silica is one of the most common minerals on earth, and is commonly contained in wide variety of materials and products. Dust from the crushing or breaking of sand or rocks may include silica particles. These particles cause silicosis, which is a serious lung disease that often is misdiagnosed. Exposure to silica can also cause lung cancer and pulmonary tuberculosis, and may lead to autoimmune disorders.
Sandblasters, miners and foundry workers are particularly at risk of developing silicosis and other illnesses. Even though many workers in these industries have tried to protect themselves by wearing respirators, some still have developed silicosis due to defective respirators.
If a loved one has been killed because of exposure to a toxic dust, you also may have a case.
What is silicosis?
Silicosis is a serious lung disease that is caused by exposure to silica, one of the most common minerals on earth. Crushing or breaking sand or rocks containing silica releases silica particles into the air, where they are inhaled by workers like sandblasters, miners and foundry workers. These particles cause inflammation and then scarring of the lungs.
There are three types of silicosis; they are defined by how long the worker was exposed, and to how much silica.
- Simple chronic silicosis develops after more than 20 years of exposure to low amounts of dust.
- Accelerated silicosis develops after 5-15 years of exposure to larger amounts of silica dust.
- Acute silicosis can develop after only weeks or months of exposure to massive amounts of silica dust.
All types of silicosis can cause these symptoms:
- Breathlessness or breathing difficulty
- Chronic cough
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Chest pains
Silicosis has no cure or specific treatment. Patients with this disease are often given cough supressants, bronchodilators, and oxygen if needed.
What should I do next?
If you have any of the symptoms listed above and you have been exposed to silica dust, please see your doctor.
Your doctor will need to take chest x-rays and carry out lung function tests in order to give you a diagnosis. Once you have been diagnosed, you can receive treatment to help you breathe more easily.
If you have seen your doctor and been diagnosed with silicosis, please contact us for a FREE consultation.
You can reach us at (800) 220-9341 or (800) 220-9341 or visit our contact page.
- Respirable Silica, from the Report on Carcinogens from NIEHS (PDF)
- Silicosis information from OSHA
- Silica information from NIOSH
- Health Effects of Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica
- Preventing Silicosis and Deaths from Sandblasting
- Preventing Silicosis and Deaths in Rock Drillers
- Preventing Silicosis and Deaths in Construction Workers
- Respirable Crystalline Silica Exposures During Tuck Pointing
- Control of Drywall Sanding Dust Exposures
- About Repirators