Silica dust may be tiny, but it has a huge impact on workers. Aside from its effects on comfort and productivity, it also has serious health implications. It is no longer surprising that companies invest in state-of-the-art dust control systems to manage silica exposure. If not, it will harm workers in more ways than one, including the hazards that we’ll talk about below.
One of the most serious health effects of breathing silica is silicosis, a lung disease. According to the American Lung Association, it has no cure, although there are measures for its prevention. In the United States, there are more than two million workers exposed to silica, making it a significant health problem. The symptoms can occur within a few weeks after exposure, and in case of accelerated silicosis, it can be evident ten years after.
- Lung Cancer
Crystalline silica is known as one of the causes of lung cancer among workers. While the greatest risk factor of lung cancer is tobacco smoke, silica is also a hazard. Dust deposits will also damage the lung tissues and can cause scarring. The problem becomes worse the longer is the exposure of the victim to silica dust.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
COPD refers to a group of progressive lung diseases, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. One of its most common symptoms is increasing breathlessness. Coughing, wheezing, and tightness in the chest are also often experienced by the victim. Inhalation of harmful gases and particles is one of the culprits for this health problem, and this is how silica becomes dangerous.
This is a complication associated with silicosis rather than a direct impact of exposure to silica dust. Silicosis can weaken the response of your immune system. When this happens, there is a higher risk of developing lung infections, and that includes tuberculosis. If you are smoking, this can worsen the problem. Wheezing, expectoration, and coughing are some of the most common symptoms of silicotuberculosis.
- Kidney Failure
Silica dust can cause two kinds of kidney failure. The first is acute renal failure, which is seldom the case. The second is chronic renal failure, which is more common. Persistent exposure over several years of working, such as in a quarry, will increase the likelihood of having this health problem. Silica creates a generalized immune reaction, and this is from where it damages your kidneys.
Bricks, tiles, concrete, and even plastic are the most common sources of silica dust. They are tiny and may seem harmless, but they are significant health hazards. Long-term exposure among workers can result in silicosis, lung cancer, and kidney failure, among others. To prevent this from happening, invest in high-quality dust suppression equipment, such as what you will find at Bosstek. They have top-notch equipment that will help manage silica dust in the workplace. It is a must-have in a company’s dust control strategies to prevent silica from wreaking havoc.