The Dangerous Results of Exposure to Silica

Every year hundreds of workers are diagnosed with severe health conditions due to their regular exposure to, or contact with, hazardous chemicals and other dangerous substances in the workplace. Most of these illnesses, however, are chronic, developing overtime and getting manifested only when these have already reached a stage wherein treatment is no longer possible. Cancer and lung disorder are the usual types of these disorders.

The organ most affected and easily damaged by toxic substances is the lungs and, depending on the kind of substance they are exposed to, the damage can be any of the following:

  • Bronchiolitis obliterans (BO), also called obliterative bronchiolitis (OB) or constrictive bronchiolitis (CB), a rare, deadly and incurable lung disease that results from the scarring or inflammation of the small airway branches called bronchioles (passageways where air passes through the mouth or nose to the alveoli, or air sacs, of the lungs). This lung disease can be caused by exposure to toxic fumes, such as ammonia, thionyl chloride, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, chlorine, nitrogen dioxide and diacetyl
  • Byssinosis, which is a result of regular inhalation of textile fiber dust
  • Chronic beryllium disease (CBD), which is caused by the inhalation of the fumes or dust of the metallic element Beryllium. This lung disease is acquired only by individuals who are allergic to the metal beryllium
  • Pneumoconiosis, or black lung disease, is caused by the regular inhalation of coal dust
  • Silicosis, which is caused by inhalation of dust-containing silica

Many workers are not fully aware of the deadly effects of many different kinds of minerals, especially silica. Breathing in silica dust (regularly) is common among workers whose job involves crushing or breaking of rocks and sands. Thus, many of them end up with the lethal lung disease called silicosis, which is inflammation and scarring of the lungs.

There are three known types of silicosis an individual may suffer from:

  • Chronic, which is the most common form of silicosis; the symptoms of which remain undetected for years. As it progresses, it becomes worse, and can even lead to the development of a heart disease.
  • Accelerated, it develops fasters compared to chronic silicosis and is acquired due to exposure to larger amounts of silica powder or dust in a short period of time.
  • Acute type silicosis that develops and worsens the fastest. Its symptoms include loss of weight, shortness of breath, fever, and coughing. Due to fast respiratory failure, death can result one or two years after symptoms manifest.

The effects of silicosis cannot be reversed. Thus, it is absolutely necessary that workers wear protective gears and that employers make sure that they do so. Failure of employers or supervisors to ensure worker protection can make them liable for whatever illness a worker may develop. Workers, on their part, should be aware of their health condition and make sure to contact competent Houston personal injury lawyers once symptoms of any illness appear.