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Creating clouds of silica dust

This worker could easily fit ventilation or a water supply to his machine, but instead he risks painful and deadly lung cancer or silicosis.

This worker could easily fit ventilation or a water supply to his machine, but instead he risks painful and deadly lung cancer or silicosis.

It might not sound like a common risk, but it is estimated that there are currently around 800 lung cancer deaths per year due to long-term exposure to silica dust at work. Inhaling silica dust can also cause silicosis, which is an irreversible lung disease that can take years to develop and can end in a painful death. It’s caused by fine particles of silica which damage and inflames the lungs and leads to the formation of scar tissue (fibrosis). Controlling the dust, which is produced when cutting, blasting or drilling granite, sandstone, slate, brick or concrete, is straightforward using exhaust ventilated tools or ones that have their own water supply. Despite this, inspectors still see the same breaches of law again and again.

Updated: 2012-10-23