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Causes of Scleroderma: Silica Exposure

Diseases Caused by Silica
Silica Materials
Silica and Scleroderma
Occupational Exposure

Overview of Silica Exposure

Sweeping Dirt by Shelley EnszThe earth is largely made of silica, as it is a natural substance that occurs in dirt and sand. Silica is a threat to health when crystalline silica particles are in the air and continually inhaled. For example, walking along a sandy beach or living in a building made of concrete are not things that pose a risk for illnesses caused by silica exposure. It is significant and unprotected exposure to airborne silica that may pose a known and proven health risk.

Silica Exposure and Scleroderma: More Bridges and Collaboration between Disciplines Are Needed. The lack of a proper understanding of the pathogenesis of silica-associated autoimmunity may also result from missing bridges between disciplines. PMC, Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 2020 Apr 1; 201(7): 880882.

Diseases Caused by Silica Exposure

Pills by Shelley EnszDiseases Caused by Silica Exposure. Silica exposure can cause autoimmune diseases such as lupus, scleroderma, and vasculitis. It can also cause silicosis, kidney disease, lung cancer, tuberculosis, and other airways diseases. Environmental exposure to silica can occur in workers and bystanders in many industries, including agriculture, construction, and potters. ISN.

Lupus and Silica
Scleroderma and Silica

Materials Containing Silica

Sand Turtle by Shelley EnszMaterials Containing Silica. Silica occurs naturally in the earth, and it is a component of many construction and manufacturing materials. It is a health hazard only when it is airborne, and the crystalline silica particles are inhaled. Thousands of products contain silica (everything from makeup to pottery) but just containing silica does not make an item hazardous or a potential cause of illness. For example, soil and sand are made of silica, but walking across a field or a beach does not pose a health hazard due to silica. ISN.

Overview Materials Containing Silica

Silica Environmental and Occupational Exposures

Glassware by Shelley EnszSilica Occupational Exposure. Many occupations and even some hobbies can create silica dust, which can then cause severe health problems and even death. Workers in these industries (or hobby enthusiasts) are advised to take all necessary safety precautions to prevent inhalation of crystalline silica. Sometimes the silica particles can be so tiny that they cannot even be seen in the air, thus sometimes causing people to lapse in wearing protection. The take-home message is that people in these industries should make every effort to avoid inhaling silica (whether or not it is noticeable in the air.) ISN.

Inhaled Crystalline Silica

Silica and Scleroderma

Mask by Shelley EnszCauses of Scleroderma: Silica Occupational Exposure. 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. ISN.

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United States

Silica and Silicosis

Hospital Monitor by Shelley EnszSilica and Silicosis. Significant exposure to airborne crystalline silica can cause tuberculosis, lung cancer, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis, silicosis, and scleroderma. Silicosis can cause a nodular type of lung fibrosis, tuberculosis, and kidney disorders. ISN.

Silicosis Symptoms
Go to Diseases Caused by Silica Exposure

SCLERO.ORG was the world's leading nonprofit for trustworthy research, support, education and awareness for scleroderma and related illnesses from 1998 to 2021. It was a grassroots movement from the original Scleroderma from A to Z web site, which was founded by Shelley Ensz. We were a 501(c)(3) U.S.-based public charitable foundation. We closed this web site and our nonprofit agency in April 2021.

International Scleroderma Network (ISN)