Causes of silicosis
Silica dust is naturally found in many types of rock, sand and soil. When silica dust enters the lungs, it can irritate the lungs and cause inflammation. This eventually leads to scarring in the lungs – or pulmonary fibrosis.
Silicosis usually develops 10-20 years after exposure to silica dust, so you may not notice any symptoms until long after your exposure. People who are exposed at work are at higher risk of developing the condition. If your job involves cutting, chipping or grinding any kind of stone, you may breathe in silica dust. Industries at risk of silicosis include construction, mining, quarrying, demolition, sand blasting, stone masonry, worktop manufacturing and fitting, tiling, pottery, ceramics and glass.
Symptoms of silicosis
Treatments for silicosis
Silicosis cannot be cured. However, pulmonary rehabilitation and oxygen therapy may help improve your quality of life. It is important to limit your exposure to silica dust if you’re still working. You may want to ask for help with stopping smoking if you smoke.
You’ll have regular appointments with your medical team to review your silicosis progression, and decide on your treatments.
Outlook for silicosis
Pulmonary fibrosis caused by silica dust usually progresses very slowly over many years. But if you smoke or have smoked, the progression may be faster. Silicosis is not usually fatal in the UK. Silicosis complications include pulmonary hypertension, COPD and lung cancer.