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Preventing Silicosis

Preventing Silicosis

Silicosis is a severe chronic lung disease reason by inhaling crystalline silica.”Approximately 2.3 million employees are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in the works are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in the work area, including 2 million workers in construction and 300,000 workers in general industry, maritime and hydraulic fracturing, ” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

But what is breathable crystalline silica and why is it so effective

A dangerous mineral

Occurring in crystalline and non-crystalline form, silica is a mineral found in sand, sandstone, shale, and granite. When workers drill, crush, chip or break materials that contain crystalline silica, large amounts of respirable crystalline silica can form as dust, CDC says. The dust particles are microscopic, so they can penetrate deep into a worker’s lungs if inhaled, eventually affecting a person’s ability to breathe.

The American Lung Association notes that various types of silicosis exist.

Acute silicosis causes coughing, weight loss, and fatigue within a few weeks or years of exposure to inhaled silica.

Chronic silicosis appears roughly 10 to 30 years after exposure and can cause extensive lung scarring, particularly in the upper lungs.

Accelerated silicosis occurs within 10 years of high-level exposure.

Workers with silicosis have an increased risk of other health issues. including tuberculosis, chronic bronchitis, and lung censer, the association says.

Controlling Exposure

Because silicosis has no cure, it is a great way to keep workers safe from breathable crystalline cells. CDR recommends employers follow the hierarchy of Controls, which lists ways of increasing effectiveness.

.End the job tasks that expose workers to the admirable Crystalline silica.

.Incorporate engineering controls, such as the local exhaust ventilation or water spray to reduce silica dusts.       

.Incorporate administrative controls, such as limiting the time workers spend around respirable crystalline silica or other access to areas with high concentrations of respirable crystalline silica.

.Wear personal protective equipment, such as respirators, when working with irreparable crystal silica.

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