Beware of Silicosis Disease
Silicosis, also known as Potter's rot, is a form of occupational lung disease caused by inhalation of crystalline silica dust, and is marked by inflammation and scarring in forms of nodular lesions in the upper lobes of the lungs. It is a type of pneumoconiosis.
Silicosis (particularly the acute form) is characterized by shortness of breath, cough, fever, and cyanosis (bluish skin). It may often be misdiagnosed as pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), pneumonia, or tuberculosis.
How to Prevent this Silicosis Disease-
There is a general lack of awareness about the nature of the disease silicosis and about the sources of silica exposure in the worksite. More than 1 million U.S. workers are exposed to crystalline silica (free silica). Overexposure to crystalline silica can cause silicosis, a disabling lung disease.
Sand, rock, and soil are the most common materials that contain silica. The most common form of crystalline silica is known as quartz. Inhalation of airborne dusts that contain crystalline silica can occur in a wide variety of settings: mining, quarrying, and stone cutting; foundry operations; paint-blasting and sand-blasting; glass manufacturing and etching; and in some types of construction work.
When might you expect silica exposure?
During work with dry sand, quartz, or clay that contains silica
During demolition of concrete, brick, and mortar
During drilling of quartz-containing rock, clay, or sandy soil
During dry sweeping of concrete, rock, clay, or sand dust
Control overall dust exposures by minimizing the dust around work areas.
Substitute less hazardous abrasive-blasting materials for those containing crystalline silica.
Install engineering controls (local exhaust ventilation) and containment methods (blast-cleaning machines and cabinets) to prevent dust from being released into the air.
Train workers about health effects of silica dust and good work practices that reduce dust.
Wet down surfaces before clean-up.
Use vacuums with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters or wet-sweeping for clean-up.
Never dry sweep or blow dust with compressed air.
Wear respirators, where necessary, to avoid breathing dusts.
Be aware that the highest silica concentrations may occur inside enclosed areas during tasks such as concrete or masonry sawing or abrasive blasting. Wear air-supplied respirators under high dust conditions.
Shower or wash up and change into clean clothes before leaving the worksite.