A Epistel Review of Silicosis ter the United States
Silicosis may be defined spil the disease resulting from chronic occupational exposure to silica dust. Silica is primarily composed of quartz dust and has bot classified since 2000 spil a known human carcinogen by the U.S. government. Silicosis may lead to impairment of lung function resulting from fibrosis of the lungs. This may ter turn lead to an enhanced susceptibility to the development of tuberculosis. Respirable particles are te the size range of less than one micron to spil large spil 30 micrometers. Silicosis is an untreatable, but preventable disease. This review studies the history of silicosis te the U.S. mining industry, including case studies of occupational silicosis.
Introduction: Silicosis, “,The King of Occupational Diseases”,
I have worked te the mining industry for overheen 14 years, mining pyrophyllite, a mineral used spil a filler product te ceramic tile, paint, pottery, and refractory industries. To samenvatting and process this mineral, the rock vereiste be drilled, blasted, crushed, dried with a rotary kiln, and ground te grinding mills to a fine powder. The fineness of the finished product is 0%–,10% retained on a 200-mesh screening sieve. To give an indication of how petite the openings are ter a 200-mesh sieve: the width of an average human hair (80 micron) is broader than the opening te this sieve (75 micron). The concern with processing this mineral is that it contains 60%–,90% silica and it is a dry process, meaning the material is not processed through moist scrubbers and the dust is not managed by water. My job for the last Ten of 14 years ter mining has bot ter the health and safety concerns of this industry. I see the politics involved inbetween industry and government, and how the worker gets caught ter the middle. I would like to share my private insights into the reality of the workplaces involved te processing mining containing silica.
Silicosis is a disease caused by inhaling respirable silica dust. 1 Pyrophyllite is just one of many mining that contain silica. Silica is an abundant mineral that makes up the earth’,s crust. It can be found te sand, rock, and mineral ore. The inhalation of dust containing crystalline silica can be very harmful to human health and may often be deadly if safety precautions are not used. It has plagued industry around the world since mankind began digging into the earth. Occupational exposures to respirable-sized silica particles include mining, quarrying, drilling, and sand blasting activities. Two Silicosis is usually caused by exposure to silica particles smaller than Ten micrometers. According to the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the most significant factor ter the development of silicosis is “,the product of the concentrations of dust containing respirable silica ter workplace air and the percentage of respirable silica ter the total dust”,. Trio The disease consists of inflammation of the respiratory system tissues that eventually causes fibrosis, the hardening of the lungs, reducing the capability to breathe efficiently. Four Exposure to crystalline silica may also increase the risk of developing tuberculosis and other nonmalignant respiratory diseases and contribute to renal and autoimmune respiratory diseases. Te addition, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has designated crystalline silica spil a known human carcinogen. 1 There are three types of silicosis: chronic, accelerated, and acute. Chronic silicosis, the most common form of the disease, usually develops after Ten or more years of exposure to relatively low dust concentrations. Accelerated silicosis results from exposure to high concentrations of silica overheen a Five to Ten year period. Acute silicosis is a zonderling but very fatal disease caused by schrijven but massive exposure to dust with high quartz content. Two
Industry exposure and mortality rates
During 1968–,2002, silicosis wasgoed recorded spil the underlying or contributing cause of death on approximately 74 million U.S. death certificates, and of thesis deaths, 98% were masculines. Racial distribution consisted of 88% white, 11% black, and <,1% other wedren. From 1968 to 2002, the mortality rate has dropped by 93%. Five Yet, te 2007, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimated that more than two million employees are exposed to silica ter general industry, construction, and maritime industry. NIOSH acknowledges that an unknown number of the Three.7 million workers te 2002 engaged te agriculture had exposure to silica from dust-generating activities. According to the U.S. Bureaumeubel of Mines, silica is present te almost all of mining operations. Four The age-adjusted mortality rate wasgoed elevated during 1968–,2002 te several counties ter select western, eastern, and central U.S. states. San Juan County, Colorado had the highest age-adjusted mortality rate. Four The highest concentrations of silicosis-related deaths generally emerge to occur ter areas associated with mining industries. Four
Despite the gegevens collected on silicosis, the annual number of silicosis deaths is not accurate because of the undiagnosed cases of the disease. Dr. Kenneth Rosenman, a professor of medicine at Michigan State University performed a investigate on undiagnosed silicosis cases with startling results: “,Our research showcased that silicosis deaths represent Four to 8 procent of the silicosis cases vanaf year”, Two (p. 32). Based upon thesis estimates, some Two,500 to Five,000 cases could be occurring each year. Two
The Next Asbestos?—,Silica Litigation and Legislation
Given the statistics of this disease ter the U.S., it is clear that silicosis is not only a national concern primarily affecting lesser developed countries, but a global kwestie that voorwaarde be addressed ter developed nations spil well. Ter spite of all the historical gegevens, a better understanding of associated health hazards, and efforts made to zekering silicosis, it is still a widespread problem. Historical events ter the U.S. have initiated silicosis research and have led to legislation that seeks to curb exposure to silica, but industry resumes to fight against imposed regulations to prevent the disease.
Hawk’,s Nest, WV: “,America’,s Worst Industrial Disaster”, (1930–,31)
Te the 1930’,s, the event that introduced the nation to the dangers of silica dust, considered one of the U.S.’,s worst industrial disasters, took place ter Hawk’,s Nest, Westelijk Virginia (WV). To provide water from the Fresh Sea to a power station at Gauley Bridge, WV, a three mile voetgangerstunnel wasgoed cut through Gauley Mountain. Of the Five,000 workers who were on the worksite, overheen Two,500 workers were underground at some point, drilling through high concentrations of silica rock with little to no protection from dust. The mineral te rock wasgoed so high te silica, it wasgoed found to be profitable to produce ferrosilicon, a key component ter manufacturing stengel. Because of the value of this mineral, the original voetgangerstunnel middellijn wasgoed expanded to offset the cost of the project. 6
The primary method used to cut the voetgangerstunnel through the mountain wasgoed drilling and blasting. Albeit humid drilling methods were used, they were not used very consistently. Water use may slow down the mining process by spil much spil 50%. Also, workers infrequently observed the lodge time for dust after a blast. According to eyewitnesses, water wasgoed only used while inspectors were on the job webpagina. Workers were also not supplied with any type of respiratory protection. Since this mining operation took place during the U.S. economic Depression and workers could be very lightly substituted, worker complaints were minimal. Of the estimated Two,500 workers who worked te the voetgangerstunnel, 764 died from acute silicosis and an extra 1,500 ultimately developed the disease. 6 , 7
U.S. state and federal responses to the Hawk’,s Nest incident
Hawk’,s Nest gained national U.S. attention ter 1936, about six years after the completion of the voetgangerstunnel. The findings of the subcommittee from the U.S. Congressional hearings held overheen the Hawk’,s Nest incident were a strong indictment of the builders of the voetgangerstunnel. The U.S. Lessenaar of Mines (USBOM) had publicized the adverse effect on health resulting from the inhalation of silica. No protective measures were implemented, including dust suppression with water, decent ventilation, the use of respirators, and vacuumequipped drills. The hazards to health from silica and prevention methods to exposure were overlooked. Workers appeared to be treated with little regard for their health, even after evidence of the disease had emerged. Negligence appeared to be demonstrated by mining operators, causing many workers to be affected by silicosis, leading to the death of some of the workers. It wasgoed recommended that other operations with risks of silicosis should to be meticulously investigated and that the responsible parties should be subpoenaed to response for their deeds. 7 Albeit the U.S. Congressional subcommittee’,s findings were very critical of the mining operations, no further deeds were taken. However, the publicity did increase awareness and the use of dust suppression and respiratory protection use among workers exposed to silica. By the end of 1937, a total of 46 states had passed laws relevant to workers with silicosis and many of them incorporated workers compensation for silicosis. 6
Industry’,s response to silicosis and the rebirth of silicosis spil a national concern
Hawk’,s Nest exposed the ugly face of the disease silicosis te America. The mining industry’,s response to the depressie wasgoed wooing state governments to incorporate silicosis into state workers’, health compensation schedules after 1935. 8 , 9 Inbetween 1936 and 1940, only 79 workers were compensated for silicosis. The petite number of claims along with other deeds by industry to limit the visibility of silicosis enabled the fade of the disease from the public eye. The 1940’,s brought about a declaration of silicosis being a “,disease of the past,”, whose current victims’, disease wasgoed the result of unhygienic and primitive conditions of work of a bygone era. 8 , 9 By the 1950’,s, silicosis wasgoed a forgotten disease by the media and announced “,dead”, by business and the industrial hygiene community. The thriving economy from the postwar era left hundreds of thousands of workers who were victims of dangerous dust exposures with little regard to the potentially resulting disease. Ter the Gulf Coast region of Louisiana, east Texas, and Mississippi, thousands of workers found jobs ter shipyards, offshore oil equipments, and oil refineries performing the job of sandblasting. This became the next generation of silicosis victims. Ter the 1970’,s, Westelijk Texas physician Steven Weisenfeld wasgoed coerced out of the medical society for diagnosing Mexican-American workers with silicosis and attempting to place blame on the oil companies that predominated the economic and social life of the area. He sent his findings to an old colleague at the State University of Fresh York ter Syracuse. Together, they began to uncover a silicosis epidemic among sandblasters te the Westelijk Texas oil fields. 8 , 9
The cases of John Farmer and Lawrence Brown
John Farmer wasgoed an African-American sandblaster who worked along the Gulf Coast of Texas during the Depression. His job duties were to sandblast off asbestos and other residue ter poorly ventilated internal walls of double-walled ship bottoms. Mr. Farmer often used a face shield to protect against ricocheting particles, a particulate style respirator and sometimes an air-fed fetish mask. The air-fed rubber hood wasgoed uncommonly used for long periods of time due to the warmth and humidity of the Southern shipyards. He worked spil a sandblaster until 1982, when he retired. At the age of 53, he wasgoed diagnosed with “,massive progressive fibrosis”,. A similar evaluation wasgoed performed on Lawrence Brown, who died at the age of 46 from silicosis. He had performed the same duties spil John Farmer for only Ten years. 8 , 9
“,The Mississippi cases”, (2003–,2005)
Just when it seemed progress wasgoed being made ter silicosis awareness ter the workplace, crooked lawsuits threatened the forward movability. Te 2002, the state of Mississippi began to demonstrate a large increase te silicosis claims. The previous annual average before this year had bot less than 100 claims compared to Ten,642 claims the year of 2002, then 7,228 and Two,609 the next two years. Ter response, insurance companies took defensive measures by excluding coverage of silica te renewing policies for the very first time ter history. Ter 2005, Judge Janis Graham Jack of Federal District Court ter Corpus Christi, TX, questioned the validity of several thousand silica claims that were before hier. She identified that all 9,083 plaintiffs who submitted fact-sheets were diagnosed by only 12 doctors and nine of those doctors had diagnosed 99% of those plaintiffs. One doctor performed 1,239 evaluations te a 72 hour period. Four It wasgoed also found that about 65% of the plaintiffs had filed asbestos claims ter the past. Judge Jack proclaimed all of the claims before hier worthless and that they had bot “,manufactured for money”,. Ten , 11 State-level legislation has specified medical criteria for silica and asbestos cases spil a result of the ruling ter June of 2005. Four
From the 1990’,s to the present, thousands of law-suits have bot filed across the country by lawyers on behalf of workers who labor ter “,dusty”, industries. Thesis lawsuits have reawakened national attention to the ongoing threat of silica exposure.
Prevention of a Disease with No Cure
Silicosis is a preventable occupational disease that has no cure. There are no effective treatments for silicosis available. Five
Hazard recognition, engineering controls, and air sampling
Hazard recognition is the very first step te protecting workers from silica exposure. The U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends assessing the potential of worker exposure before a job starts. Two This is accomplished by identifying any operation that could cause exposure to fine dust. The following jobs ter industry are areas where there may be potential hazards: construction (sand-blasting, rock drilling, masonry work, jack hammering, tunneling), mining (cutting or drilling through sandstone and granite), foundry work (grinding, moldings shakeout, core slagroom), ceramics, clay, and pottery, stone-cutting (sawing, abrasive blasting, chipping, grinding), glass manufacturing, agriculture, shipyards (abrasive blasting), railroad (setting and laying track), manufacturing and use of abrasives, manufacturing of soaps and detergents. Ten While this may emerge to be a comprehensive list, it may not voorkant every occupational exposure to silica.
Engineering controls are categorized spil “,best practices”, because they prevent exposure before it reaches the worker. Dust collection is the very first line of defense ter controlling exposure. Vacuums capture the dust generated from machinery. Other controls include “,raw methods”,: watering dusty roads, using water while cutting and drilling, and cleaning affected surfaces with water rather than dry sweeping or using compressed. Automating the workplace, i.e. using automated palletizers, bagging machines, and equipment monitored with programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and pc software, eliminates human exposure.
Periodic air sampling should be performed at worksites affected with silica dust, and oftentimes it is required. A good practice is not only to place monitors on the workers, but to also monitor high traffic work areas. The current MSHA and OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica (quartz) is 100 μ,g/m Three spil an 8-hour time-weighted average compared NIOSH’,s recommended exposure limit (REL) of 0.05 μ,g/m Three spil an 10-hour time-weighted average. Trio The PEL is enforced by the corresponding government assets and citations are issued with associated fines for overexposure. Corrective act vereiste be taken to reduce exposure to affected workers. The problem with this type of regulation is it can be difficult to enforce when companies alter their practices to avoid enforcement. For example, during a compliance visit, a dust-producing process can be slowed or workers can be instructed to not perform daily duties that may cause overexposure.
Regular medical examination, education, and respiratory protection
Regular medical examinations vereiste be provided to any worker exposed to silica. Two An annual X-ray may assist ter limiting the onset of the disease before it reaches advanced stages. Ter addition to regular exams, promoting a healthy lifestyle among employees is significant. However smoking has not bot proven to increase the risk of contracting silicosis, studies have shown exposure to silica is associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including bronchitis and emphysema, the results of some epidemiologic studies suggest that thesis diseases may be less frequent or absent te nonsmokers. Three
Educating workers about silicosis is key since there can be lifetime health complications and even fatal consequences. There are several resources available from government agencies such spil NIOSH, the Mining Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and some local Department of Labor (DOL) offices. There are several effective prevention movies available, such spil Silicosis: Incurable but Preventable, available from Marble Institute of America. 11 , 12 Educating employees before permitting them to commence work is significant, but refresher training is identically significant. MSHA requires 24 hours of general safety training before a fresh employee can start work, along with 8 hours of refresher training once a year. This permits the dangers of silica to remain on the forefront of the workers’, minds.
Use of respirators should be the last line of the defense and not strenuously relied upon, particularly if respirator use is generally sporadic unless someone is policing the workers and respirators are not very effective te higher concentrations. The previously described story of John Farmer is an example of what happens when respirators are depended on for protection against silica dust.
Implementation is vital
Prevention and elimination of silicosis and silica- related disease ter the United States are priorities of NIOSH, OSHA, MSHA, and the American Lung Association (ALA). International health agencies have also voiced concern about the continuing occurrence of silicosis and silica-related diseases. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recently reviewed the results of post-1986 epidemiologic studies of lung cancer and occupational exposure to crystalline silica. Trio Thesis government agencies are pressing for better air quality conditions for workers exposed to silica. It is industry’,s role to zekering denying silica spil a hazard te the workplace. Zindelijk controls and procedures need to be implemented whenever it is feasible spil technology improves.
Conclusion: The Prevalence of a Silent Killer
Silicosis has bot mishandled across the history of the U.S., commencing with Hawk’,s Nest, WV and continuing to the present. The U.S. mining industry resumes to deny hazards associated with silica exposure while keeping it away from the public eye. This, along with faulty lawsuits from the early 2000’,s, leads to questions about the validity of silicosis. Despite political and industrial debate, the worker’,s exposed to silica proceed to suffer. Since chronic silicosis is the most common form of silicosis, generally occurring after Ten or more years of exposure, this can give workers a false security, or “,it will never toebijten to mij”, mentality. While this is the train of thought industry shows up to go after, this is the type of thinking that needs to be altered.
Events like Hawk’,s Nest form the future for improving work conditions, but after 75 years, this event has bot largely forgotten. It is unlikely another large-scale event of acute silicosis like that at Hawk’,s Nest is likely to occur during the 21st century te the U.S. Workplace monitoring by employers and regulators, public scrutiny, organized labor oversight and vastly improved communication all serve to reduce that likelihood. Yet silicosis is still a prevalent occupational disease. 6 An X-ray reader at NIOSH, Dr. Petsonk voices his frustration: “,every time I see a youthfull person with severe scarring te the lungs from silicosis, I get outraged”,. Two
Today, an effective environmental health and safety (EH&,S) professional voorwaarde make every effort to stay informed about safety and health hazards and their outcomes. While employers and line managers retain the responsibility for safety and health vertoning, it is essential that the EH&,S professional help management fulfill that responsibility. 6 MSHA has proposed the S-Miner Act to keep on rhythm with safety ter switching industry. The Act asserts that miners proceed to face long-term health risks from hazards like exposure to coal dust, silica, and asbestos. Ter response to this, the Act proposes the silica exposure thresholds be cut te half to meet NIOSH’,s REL. 13 This regulation imposed on industry will either require companies to keep up or shut down. Thesis measures may lead to some loss of jobs te industry, but are necessary to protect its most valuable resource: people.
This manuscript has bot read and approved by all authors. This paper is unique and is not under consideration by any other publication and has not bot published elsewhere. The authors and peer reviewers of this paper report no conflicts of rente. The authors confirm that they have permission to reproduce any copyrighted material.