Silica dust is so fine it can enter the deepest parts of the lungs. The dust can build up in the lungs overtime and cause scarring leading to a number of diseases.
Excessive exposure to airborne Silica dust can cause the following conditions:
- Chronic bronchitis
- Chronic airway obstruction
- Lung cancer
- Autoimmune diseases
- Chronic renal disease
What is silicosis?
Silicosis is a very serious disease caused by the inhalation of Crystalline Silica. It is marked by inflammation and scarring in the upper part of the lungs.
Who is affected?
Traditionally, exposure to silica occurred in workplaces and industries such as mining, construction and demolition.
Now, we are seeing a trend of exposure to dangerous amounts of Crystalline Silica from the use of power tools to cut, grind and drill into artificial stone for bathroom and kitchen bench tops.
Symptoms and latency period
Although the medium latency period for the development of silicosis symptoms is 7 years, rapid decline in lung function and progressive massive fibrosis can occur as early as 3 years.
Damage can be done to the lungs even before symptoms are obvious.
A cough is an early symptom. As scarring in the lungs progresses symptoms can worsen and include:
- Phlegm build up
- Chest pain
- Breathing difficulties
People with acute silicosis can also have fever, weight loss and fatigue.
Removing the source of the silica exposure is the only way to prevent silicosis lung disease or progression of the disease.
Unfortunately, there is no proven treatment other than a lung transplant so prevention, awareness and control of dust exposure is vital.
Register your exposure
If you have been exposed to silica or are concerned that you may have been exposed, it is important to register the nature and circumstances of the exposure on the Slater and Gordon Silicosis Database.
Registering is important so data can be collected and collated to increase knowledge, awareness, lift standards and improve management of those that have been exposed.
Also importantly, by registering your exposure, you will be protecting your information for any potential future claims. You will also find out if you have any entitlements to silicosis compensation now.
Workers and their families may be entitled to compensation from superannuation and other insurance policies (eg. Income protection insurance), a Workers’ Compensation scheme or under the common law.
What to do next
If you or someone close to you has been exposed to silica and is suffering symptoms it is important you seek the advice of a lawyer experienced in occupational dust diseases who can provide free advice on a confidential no-obligation basis.
At Slater and Gordon our lawyers are experienced in handling occupational dust disease cases, having pioneered asbestos litigation and secured compensation for thousands of Australians diagnosed with asbestos related illnesses.
We will investigate each case on its merits and advise you of the likelihood of success and the likely value of your silicosis claim.