Silicosis is an aggressive, debilitating and potentially lethal disease. Silica scars the lung tissue affecting its ability to function normally. The silica particles remain in the lung tissue causing chronic inflammation and fibrosis. The lack of regular mandatory screening makes diagnosis of silicosis quite difficult.
There are three types, depending on the level of exposure. Chronic, the most common type of silicosis, is associated with ten years of exposure. Accelerated silicosis is developed through higher exposure levels within a shorter period of frame. The most aggressive type of silicosis, acute or fatal, is a result of short-term exposure to very high levels of silica dust.
Whatever the type, once the diagnosis is confirmed there is not much that can be done. The scarred lung tissue cannot recover, lungs become stiff and the sufferer’s condition worsens. The only solution is a lung transplant. The available supportive treatments such as cough medicine, bronchodilators and oxygen only alleviate the symptoms.
The prevention is absolutely the key here with various types of equipment and tools available. Dust collectors can help during processing and manufacturing of silica containing materials, dust suppression systems are required during transportation, and staff must be adequately protected through appropriate uniforms, masks and gloves.
It is important to ensure staff’s uniforms are also properly cleaned as dusty clothing increases an overall exposure. Dust control equipment that blows dust off the uniforms often simply redistributes it. Only a system that permanently removes dust and therefore reduces the risks of developing health conditions would make a difference.
An example of such PPE is Bat Booth® – a personnel de-dusting booth that permanently removes up to 80% of dust in seconds. It uses compressed air that removes the dust which is then captured by HEPA filters, the most powerful filters commercially available. The system is specifically designed to be effective even against the smallest dust particles such as silica. You can learn more about Bat Booth® here.