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1.7 Million Exposed To Silica

May 19, 2008
Silicosis. Lung cancer. Tuberculosis. Renal disease. Autoimmune disorders. It may sound like a litany of unfair and terrifying illnesses, but it's worse - it's a list of the potential side effects of silica exposure in the workplace. And with 1.7 million workers facing industrial silica exposure in a number of professions, it's of growing concern to doctors and attorneys.

What Is Silica, Anyway?

More than just a benign dust, silica is actually the world's second most common mineral. Present in mineral ore, sand, and other rocks, silica comes in crystalline form and can be easily inhaled and breathed through the lungs. The presence of silica in inhalable dust poses the biggest threat to workers, who experience the formation of scar tissue in the lungs from prolonged silica exposure. Silica can be found at many job sites, including:

* ceramics and pottery factories;

* glass factories;

* soap and detergent plants;

* construction sites, especially those engaged in sandblasting, drilling and/or the use of jackhammers;

* foundries;

* mines;

* railroads and ship yards;

* stone work sites.

Silicosis - Industrial Killer

Silicosis kills more than 250 workers a year, but the disease is 100 percent preventable with the proper safety measures. The disease is especially dangerous because it takes so long to manifest - up to 20 years in some workers.

Silicosis is a lung disease, so symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pains, fever, loss of appetite, and a severe cough. In addition, the presence of silica in the lungs often causes an autoimmune disorder, leaving workers more vulnerable to other lung ailments such as pneumonia and tuberculosis. A thorough medical examination, including chest X-ray, lung capacity testing and other modalities, is needed for a complete silicosis diagnosis.

The three varieties of silicosis include chronic silicosis (usually after a decade or more of exposure to silica dust), acute silicosis (with high exposures; may develop anywhere from weeks to five years after exposure), and accelerated silicosis (developing over five to ten years). The severity of silicosis in a given worker depends on the level and repetition of the occupational exposure.

What Is Being Done?

OSHA and MSHA rules do apply to silica exposure at work sites. OSHA has set an exposure limit that specifies the maximum amount of permissible silica exposure during an eight-hour shift.

In addition, OSHA and MSHA both require employers to provide appropriate measures to prevent silica exposures. These include, but are not limited to, proper record keeping, providing respiratory protection devices to workers, and posting appropriate warnings to workers who may be exposed to silica dust in their jobs. It is important for workers who work in dusty conditions to take the proper precautions against silicosis and other silica-related occupational diseases.

If you are suffering from a work-related illness from silica exposure, seek the proper medical attention immediately. Consult with an experienced silica attorney to determine whether you have a case. You may be eligible to recover monetary compensation and other damages in relation to the effects of industrial silica exposure.
About the Author
LegalView hosts an array of information portals on this and many other legal issues. To learn more about silica, visit http://silica.legalview.com/. Or visit LegalView's homepage and learn about the latest in traumatic brain injury accident treatments, construction accident lawsuits or the latest auto accident jury verdicts at http://crash.legalview.com/.
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