Silicosis is a disease of the lungs that is caused by inhaling crystalline silica dust. This dust then causes inflammation and progressive scarring in the lungs that inhibits breathing ability. The people most at risk of developing silicosis include people in occupations such as various types of construction, manufacturing and transportation.
There are three main types of silicosis: acute, accelerated and chronic. Acute silicosis usually occurs a few days or weeks after high exposure and progresses rapidly. Accelerated silicosis may not be apparent until anywhere from five to ten years after exposure, but it progresses quickly once it appears. Chronic silicosis may not appear until ten or more years after initial exposure or could occur with regular low levels of exposure.
Though silicosis is an incurable disease, there are treatments which may slow the progression of the disease. However, the best tool against contracting silicosis is silicosis prevention.
Silicosis Prevention with Safety Equipment
With more than two million workers in the U. S. exposed to silicosis every year, silicosis prevention measures are vital to ensuring that large numbers of workers do not get the disease. One of the primary prevention methods is to confirm you are using all of the necessary safety gear when working in areas that contain crystalline silica dust. Safety gear that may help prevent silicosis includes:
- Ventilated blasting cabinets
- Water sprayers to keep down dust
- Various types of respirators when working in high-dust areas
Simply ensuring that you have all of the appropriate safety gear available and that you are wearing it properly are vital steps in silicosis prevention.
Workplace Habits that Aid Silicosis Prevention
While safety equipment is a critical facet of silicosis prevention, a complementary aspect is creating positive safety habits in the workplace to prevent this disease. Though the habits that will help prevent this disease are not that hard to master, it may take some time, for example when starting a new job, to make these prevention habits part of your everyday routine. Workplace habits that may help with silicosis prevention include:
- Checking that your work area is well ventilated
- Not using compressed air to clean work surfaces
- Use non-crystalline silica blasting materials whenever possible
- Make sure you have and are properly using the correct safety gear
- Do not drink, eat or smoke near crystalline silica dust
- Wash your face and hands before drinking, eating or smoking when working in areas with crystalline silica dust
- Keep a separate set of clothes for work and change into clean clothes before going home
All of these easy to implement workplace practices will greatly enhance your chances of silicosis prevention.
The Lung Health Institute Can Assist You with Silicosis Prevention and Other Silicosis Concerns
The Lung Health Institute is committed to the mission of educating people about various lung conditions and providing innovative treatments, including cellular therapy, for lung diseases such as silicosis. For additional information about silicosis prevention, if you have concerns about any lung condition or if you wish to find out about lung condition treatment options, contact our team today.