Diseases Caused by Silica
Silica and Scleroderma
Significant exposure to airborne 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.
Silicosis is a lung disease that is caused by unprotected occupational exposure to airborne silicon dioxide or silica dust. Many years can elapse before noticeable symptoms of silicosis occur, such as shortness of breath and a dry cough.
Video: Silicosis: Deadly Dust. Many American families have seen firsthand the tragic effects of silicosis. In this video from OSHA, learn more about their stories and how dust control methods can help limit workers' exposure to crystalline silica. U.S. Department of Labor.
Initial symptoms of silicosis include shortness of breath after exercising and a dry cough. Later on there could be shortness of breath even at rest. Other late symptoms include chest pain, hoarseness, and coughing up blood.
Silica and the immune system. In view of the double involvement of the Innate and the Adaptive Immune Systems and their cooperation in the stimulation of fibrosis, Silicosis can be considered as a "Collagen" Disease, related to other diseases of that group like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosus and scleroderma. PubMed, Acta Biomed Ateneo Parmense.
Understanding a complex killer. Respirable silica, a material present in cement construction products, including roof tiles, has been a known occupational health hazard for more than a century. Silicosis has been associated with other connective tissue diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, lupus and sarcoidosis. In addition, it has been linked with various kidney disorders. Professional Roofing Magazine.
Autoantibodies in silicosis patients and in silica-exposed individuals. Rheumatoid Factor (RF) was more common in patients with longer exposure to silica dust and appeared only in those with silicosis. The presence of ANA, Scl-70 and ANCA was the same as in the control population. Rheumatology International. (Also see Silicosis)
Silicosis Epidemics. The worst epidemic of silicosis occurred in 1930-1931, during the construction of Gauley Bridge tunnel in West Virginia; more than 400 of the estimated 2000 men who drilled rocks died of silicosis, and almost all the survivors developed silicosis. More recently, in 1996, silicosis was reported in 60 of 1072 workers in an automotive factory. Medscape.
To try to claim disability for lung damage due to silicosis, lung impairment has to reach significantly low levels, so diagnosis alone does not automatically guarantee disability benefits.
Silicosis and other diseases caused by inhalation of silica dust can be prevented by use of protective face masks and protective clothing. Importantly, the protective clothing must be removed before the mask is taken off.
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