- Author: Basil Varkey, MD, FCCP; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP more...
Monitoring of air quality and dust concentration in the workplace is essential to prevent silicosis and other pneumoconioses.
Limiting exposure to harmful dusts can be achieved further by suppressing dust generation, filtering or capturing dust particles, diluting the concentration with fresh air, and using personal protective respiratory equipment as further possible means of preventing silicosis.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set a permissible exposure limit for respirable silica of 10 mg/m3. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) standard is a more stringent exposure limit of 0.05 mg/m3.
In addition to the primary prevention measures, secondary methods include monitoring workers with chest radiograph and spirometry to identify early disease and to stop further exposure to silica.
Complications are as follows:
Increased incidence of mycobacterial diseases
Increased risk of lung cancer (see the Medscape Lung Cancer Resource Center)
The clinical presentation at the time of diagnosis is somewhat predictive of the prognosis, but the rate of progression varies. Silicoproteinosis worsens quickly, and death may occur in months. Progressive massive fibrosis causes gradual worsening of symptoms, deterioration of lung function, and increasing disability. On the other hand, patients with simple silicosis may be asymptomatic and may remain stable for many years both clinically and radiographically.
Prevent further exposure to silica dust. Strongly advise patients to quit smoking and provide help in smoking cessation efforts.
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