Acute Silicosis

Definition

Silicosis is a lung disease. It is caused by breathing dust that contains crystalline silica. In acute silicosis, the disease occurs after just weeks or months of exposure to very high levels of the silica. This is a serious condition. Contact your doctor immediately if you think you may have it.

Causes

Crystalline silica can be found in:
  • Concrete
  • Masonry
  • Sandstone
  • Rock
  • Paint
  • Other abrasives
  • Soil
  • Mortar
  • Plaster
  • Shingles
When these materials are cut, broken, crushed, drilled, ground, or blasted, silica dust may be produced. When silica dust gets into the air you breathe, it may become trapped in your lungs. The dust builds up damages your lungs. More dust will create more damage. This will make it hard for you to breathe.
Pathway to Lungs
Respiratory Pathway
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Risk Factors

Working in the following occupations increases your chance of acute silicosis:
  • Sandblasting (the most common cause of acute silicosis)
  • Construction
  • Wrecking and demolition
  • Abrasive blasting
  • Masonry
  • Concrete finishing
  • Drywall finishing
  • Rock drilling
  • Stone milling or cutting
  • Mining
  • Sand and gravel screening
  • Rock crushing (for road base)
  • Agriculture
  • Ceramics, clay, pottery
  • Glass manufacturing
  • Vitreous enameling of china plumbing fixtures
  • Manufacturing of soaps and detergents
  • Shipyards, railroads

Symptoms

Symptoms may appear within a few weeks to two years after exposure. If you experience any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to this condition. These may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your doctor:
  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe cough
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Chest pains
  • Respiratory failure

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