Silica and Silicosis
Crystalline silica refers to the mineral compound silicon dioxide (SiO2). It is a mineral that is most commonly found in nature and occurs in several forms. It’s most common form, Quartz, is a component of sand, stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, and mortar which are all found throughout
The Harman Law Firm is representing individuals nationwide who have developed silicosis. If you have any of the symptoms listed below, seek medical attention immediately then call (404) 554-0777 to learn your legal rights and if you are eligible for compensation as a result of lawsuit or settlement.
Exposure to crystalline silica often occurs as part of common workplace operations involving cutting, sawing, drilling, and crushing of concrete, abrasive blasting and foundry work. One government study (according to the New York Times) found that many workers in hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, were exposed to 10 times the permissible level of silica.
Silicosis, an irreversible and possibly fatal disease, is the illness associated with occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica. Preventable with workplace and environmental safety measures, the disease is at the very least life-changing and frequently disabling.
According to the CDC, at least 1.7 million U.S. workers are exposed to these minerals in a variety of industries and occupations.
There are many types of adverse health effects that could be developed with exposures to silica:
- Lung cancer
- Lung disease and disorder
- Pulmonary tuberculosis
- Autoimmune disorders
- Chronic renal disease
There are three types of silicosis:
- Chronic/classic silicosis which is the most common and occurs 15-20 years after moderate to low exposure
- Accelerated silicosis which occurs 5-10 years after high exposure
- Acute silicosis which occurs shortly after a few months or as long as 2 years following extremely high level exposures
Each type of silicosis is complicated and poses great health risks. If you think you have been exposed, seek medical attention immediately before your health becomes further compromised.
New OSHA Guidelines Could Limit Silica Dust Exposure
In August 2013, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed highly anticipated rules to limit crystalline silica. Reducing exposure to these very small particles could prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis each year.
The new rules are to replace more relaxed guidelines that were adopted over four decades ago when the exposure limits were much less than today.
According to the New York Times in August 2013, the proposal would affect 534,000 businesses, 90 percent of them in construction. Dr. David Michaels, the assistant secretary of labor in charge of OSHA, said, “it would cost the industry $640 million to comply with the new rules, averaging $1,242 a company — but he estimated that the total benefits would exceed $4 billion.
Ultimately, the proposal would require businesses to have periodic measurements taken for silica and to offer a variety of medial testing every three years to include lung function tests and chest x-rays. Other procedures companies could also take to reduce silica particles, Dr. Michaels said, “would be to use a vacuum or water hose with saws that produce such dust. For businesses that do extensive grinding, the grinding apparatus could be inside an airtight housing with a vacuum that draws away the particles.”
Exposure to silica can be deadly, and limiting that exposure is essential,” said Dr. David Michaels, the assistant secretary of labor in charge of OSHA. “Every year, exposed workers not only lose their ability to work but also to breathe. This proposal is expected to prevent thousands of deaths from silicosis — an incurable and progressive disease — as well as lung cancer.
If you work in any of the occupational industries mentioned above and you have any of the below symptoms and have not yet seen your doctor, please seek medical attention immediately before your health becomes at risk.
Some common signs and symptoms of Silicosis include:
- Shortness of breath
- Cough, often persistent and sometimes severe
- Rapid breathing
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Chest pain
- Respiratory failure
Have you or someone you know been exposed to crystalline silica? If so, contact the attorneys at the Harman Law Firm to learn your legal rights and if you are eligible for a lawsuit or potential compensation. Fill out the “Contact Us” form at the top of this page, call (404) 554-0777, or write firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Harman Law Firm represents individuals who have been injured or the families of victims who died as a result of negligence or wrongdoing.