More than two million U.S. workers are threatened by exposure to silica, a toxic dust classified by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) as a human lung carcinogen.
Exposure to silica can lead to silicosis, a disease caused by breathing in crystalline silica dust. As an occupational disease, silicosis most prominently affects the respiratory systems of employees in fields involving sandblasting, drilling, construction, mining, tunneling, demolition, and manufacturing.
Silica exposure is a serious health hazard. According to OSHA, silicosis is a “progressive, disabling, and often fatal lung disease.”
Crystalline silica dust, composed of soil, sand, granite and other minerals, is often used as an abrasive blasting agent. Silicosis develops when workers inhale fine crystalline silica dust, which causes fibrotic nodules to scar and inflame lung tissue.
The fibrotic development involved with silicosis can impede breathing, causing lung damage and respiratory illnesses. Silicosis also puts employees at an increased risk of tuberculosis. Silicosis may affect more than 100,000 workers in high-risk environments, including:
- Oil Fields and Refineries
- Construction Trades
The amount of silica inhaled and the time since exposure can impact the development of disease. Acute silicosis develops when a worker has experienced a brief but high-level exposure to silica dust. Symptoms of weight loss, shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pain develop between two months to two years.
Accelerated silicosis occurs when fluid has accumulated in the lungs, causing inflammation and an inability to oxygenate blood. Accelerated silicosis develops after 5 to 10 years of intense exposure, and symptoms take much longer to appear. Chronic silicosis, the most common form of the disease, develops after 15 to 20 years of low to medium levels of exposure. X-rays may be necessary to determine if lung damage exists.
Silicosis Side Effects
Researchers have discovered link between silica exposure and the development of medical conditions. Exposure to silicosis can cause respiratory damage and other health complications, such as chronic bronchitis, kidney failure, and lung cancer.
Silicosis may cause a number of complications, including:
- Lung cancer
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder
- Skeletal muscles
- Renal disease
OSHA regulations establish standards for the highest amount of silica an employee can be exposed to during an eight-hour shift. Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) regulations are meant to set clear safety rules for silica exposure, but many individuals still develop serious medical conditions.
Protecting workers against the risks of silica exposure is essential in a number of industries. If you developed silicosis, you may be entitled to compensation.
As a firm with the experience and aptitude to process complex toxic exposure cases, Johnson Law Group has demonstrated history of supporting individuals injured by silica complications.
Johnson Law Group has the knowledge of regulatory compliance standards and the scientific evidence to holding violators accountable for endangering workers. Learn more from about our process by requesting a private, complimentary case review.