Diseases Caused by Silica
Silica and Scleroderma
Occupational exposure to silica is a known cause of scleroderma. It is legally recognized as an occupational disease in many countries, including the United States. Scleroderma predominantly affects women. A striking finding is that when scleroderma occurs in men, it is often due to occupational exposure, such as to silica. (Also see Silica Exposure and What is Scleroderma?)
Interim Report to the Workers' Compensation Board on Scleroderma. The repeated occurrence of a very rare disease, at least three times more common in women, in males occupationally exposed to silica is suggestive of a causal association. What is striking in the literature on scleroderma reviewed for this report is the repetition of the association between this disease and an occupational history of exposure to free silica and/or vibratory tools. Industrial Disease Standards Panel (ODP), IDSP Report of Findings No. 8, Toronto, Ontario.
Silica-associated limited systemic sclerosis after occupational exposure to calcined diatomaceous earth. 52-year-old male winegrower who had a combination of Raynaud's phenomenon, oesophageal dysfunction, sclerodactyly and telangectasia. The patient's disease met the medical, administrative and occupational criteria given in the occupational diseases list 22 bis of the agriculture French Social Security scheme and thence was presumed to be occupational in origin, without need to be proved. Joint Bone Spine Volume 77, Issue 5, October 2010, Pages 472-473.
Occupational exposure and systemic sclerosis. Literature review and result of a self-reported questionnaire. Occupational exposure (labor and leisure) must be searched for when faced with a scleroderma patient for two reasons: the possible declaration of an occupational disease and a better knowledge on toxics involved in scleroderma. Granel B (PubMed) Rev Med Interne. 2008 Nov;29(11):891-900. (Also see Causes of Scleroderma: Solvents)
"Scleroderma was recognized as an occupational disease in the former German Democratic Republic. Its status after reunification is unclear. Dr. U. Haustein of Karl Marx University, Leipzig, has described the adjudication process as case-by-case (19). Each patient is discussed by a committee of experts (Obergutachtenkommission). Careful consideration is given to all facts such as occupational exposure time to silica, working conditions, interval until the manifestation of the disease, association with silicosis, etc.
"In South Africa, scleroderma is mentioned in the Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act (78 of 1973). This act originated in 1911 and was aimed at improving working conditions in all South African mines. Many aspects of the Act relate to "risk work" and "compensatable disease". Risk work, in practice, is all work below the natural surface of the earth and certain surface operations (work in crusher houses, reduction plants, and on slime dams)."
Scleroderma from silica is listed as a an occupational disease, recognized by the U.S. Worker's Compensation Bureau guidelines.
Silicone and scleroderma revisited. This review describes the mechanisms by which silicone may mediate autoimmunity in general, as well as the evidence for causal associations with more specific autoimmune syndromes in general, and scleroderma in particular. Lupus February 2012 vol. 21 no. 2 121-127.
Occupational silica exposure as a risk factor for scleroderma: a meta-analysis. The findings suggest that silica exposure may be a significant risk factor for developing systemic sclerosis (SSc) and specifically in males. Further observational studies examining the role of occupational silica exposure in the context of other risk factors are needed. SpringerLink, International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, .
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