Friday, June 19, 2020

Silicosis: Ominous resurgence of an occupational lung condition reported

News Release 18-Jun-2020

A new study appearing in the journal CHEST®, published by Elsevier, documents an increased incidence of silicosis, which progressed rapidly to massive pulmonary fibrosis in a significant proportion of patients who had previously worked artificial stone (AS), also called artificial quartz agglomerate or conglomerate, a popular new countertop material, despite cessation of exposure after diagnosis.


Silicosis, probably the most ancient occupational disease, has been traditionally related to mining or quarry work. It is caused by inhalation of crystalline silica dust that produces permanent lung scarring (pulmonary fibrosis). Its incidence had decreased in high income countries following the reduction of mining activities and implementation of better protective measures for workers and dust control.

However, over the past decade, the increasing popularity of AS for use in kitchen and bathroom countertops because of its design and attractive colors has supplanted traditional materials like granite and marble. Unfortunately, working with AS has resulted in a resurgence of cases of silicosis identified among fabricators. Despite following protective measures used for handling natural stone, these workers were nonetheless injured by the higher level of crystallized silica contained in AS (93 percent) than in natural stone (five percent-30 percent).

Measures adopted to reduce the concentration of respirable dust, such as the use of water suppression and exhaust ventilation techniques, have been implemented, but harmful levels of RCS are still documented in workplaces, generally in small factories


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