I worry a little about silicosis myself, due to breathing in (but trying not to!) thick clouds of gravel road dust from all the cars that speed past without slowing down. I’ve tried a mask, but it just isn’t practical when breathing heavily. I’ve started riding on the upwind side of the road almost all the time, and if there isn’t much wind, get as far off the road as possible, which also offers escape from flying rocks.
I doubt the new toothless tiger is going to do me any good either!
I worked on the surface of a hard rock mine (ie high silica content rather than coal dust). During my years there the dust I encountered from crushing, spray drift of particulates from concentration of ores, cycloning fill for void filling, large amounts of particulates in the air, & cement dust always made me very aware to wear a mask, but often times I would forget to don one for a little while when troubles sprang up and my sputum could look more like black tar. Underground miners there at the time actually had a campaign about silicosis but I don’t know how far it went.
The other more general term that covers silicosis and a few others is Pneumoconiosis. Cotton can cause a form of the disease as can talc, aluminium oxide, & beryllium among a few others.
The risks arising from silica dust have been long known and well understood for many decades. Industries such as underground coal mining, the manufacture of products used in concrete/mortars/grouts etc and underground hard rock mining have regulated exposure to silica dusts.
Irrespective of how well the risks have been managed in those examples, there appears to be no justification or excuse for any other industries/occupations to have ignored the risks.
How long back does industrial knowledge of silicosis date?
10yrs, 20yrs, 50yrs, 100yrs.
One answer is in the following.
In 2019 we changed our kitchen renovation plans from engineered stone bench top to Corian because of my concern about silicosis in the workers. I couldn’t find any information about health concerns with the manufacture of Corian. I hope their aren’t any but would be interested to know if there are.
The mineral in Corian is bauxite which does not give the same problems with dust inhalation as silica. Of course inhaling any kind of dust for a long period is not good for you but life is evaluation of risks daily.
The idea of banning manufactured stone that contains silica is back. This paper and this one tell us that the current approach is not working and the only way to save ill health and death is to ban it.
Apparently current safety equipment and/or the way it is used is just not adequate. as one puts it:
However, there is increasingevidence dust control measures do not reduce the levels of silica to non-hazardous levels.
It is interesting to note that (unlike asbestos) the risks of inhaling silica dust have been know for a very long time and that improved work methods have reduced it to a manageable level in miners etc. The present plan for the stone industry for WorkSafe and government is to improve practices but some say that won’t work.
I had my benchtop done with Granite Transformations who have this information on their website about the safety of their engineered stone. They claim they have had no silicosis in over 25 years in the industry. The owner said he has been tested and has absolutely nothing on his lungs to cause concern. So perhaps it isn’t the product that is the problem, but the manufacturing process of less reputable companies. Is Engineered Stone Safe? - Granite Transformations Sydney
If you look at the links above there are qualified people saying that protective equipment does not work well enough, that some workers are going to get exposed regardless. These kinds of illness have a large degree of chance in whether any individual gets it. Back in the day before mine air safety was improved not every hard rock miner got silicosis.
For one company to have no cases in 25 years may be because they are more careful, chance, or both, there is no way to know.