Eurosil - The European Association of Industrial Silica Producers

1.9. What is silicosis?

Silicosis is one of the world’s oldest known occupational diseases and is caused by the inhalation of respirable crystalline silica (Stacey P. 2005).

It is one of the most common types of pneumoconiosis. It is a nodular progressive fibrosis caused by the deposition in the lungs of fine respirable particles of crystalline silica.

Silicosis is an occupational disease, meaning that it only affects people exposed in the workplace. Environmental exposures to silica dust are much lower than those encountered in the workplace and are not sufficiently high to cause this occupational disease.

Future cases of silicosis can be reduced by implementing appropriate measures to reduce exposure to silica-containing dusts. Such measures include improved work practices, engineering controls, respiratory protective equipment and training programmes.

The disease has a long latency period. The new cases of silicosis registered today are due to exposure of three or four decades ago.