Forgotten industrial disease ‘silicosis’ named new asbestos

Tuesday 18 July 2017
Bree Knoester

‘Silicosis’, a disease commonly found between the 1940’s and 1960’s, has recently re-emerged in tradies in the stone benchtop manufacturing, finishing and installation industries. There is no cure and no treatments are available.

A form of pneumoconiosis, silicosis is a serious lung condition characterised by the formation of fibrous tissue around the dust particle causing a breathing obstruction. Most commonly silicosis is found to be chronic, and occurs as a result of prolonged exposure to low concentrations of dust.

As with other industrial diseases, such as mesothelioma, the disease may not produce symptoms until a significant period of time has passed. In the case of chronic silicosis, this could be ten to twenty years after exposure. Less commonly diagnosed, ‘acute silicosis’ may develop three to five years after a heavy dust exposure, particularly from being in enclosed spaces.

The element ‘silica’ is the most common element found in the earth’s crust. The element is dangerous in the crystalline form of ‘free silica’ found in quartz, tridymite and cristobalite.

Contracting silicosis is dependent on a number of factors, being:

  • the level and kind of dust inhaled (i.e. the percentage of free silica present in the dust)
  • the form and size of silica (the smaller particles are the most dangerous)
  • length of exposure
  • presence or absence of complicating factors (i.e. infection).

Persons diagnosed with a dust disease are advised to seek legal advice. We have a dedicated team handling our dust disease matters to ensure our client’s receive the highest standard of support and advice throughout the process. We acknowledge litigation is inherently stressful so we make ourselves readily accessible to put our client’s at ease when questions arise.

If you or someone you know as been affected by a dust related injury, contact Bree Knoester on (03) 9321 9879 to book your obligation free appointment.

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