Silicosis is a long-term lung disease caused by inhaling large amounts of crystalline silica dust, usually over many years.

Silica is a substance naturally found in certain types of stone, rock, sand and clay. Working with these materials can create a very fine dust that can be easily inhaled.

Once inside the lungs, the dust particles are attacked by the immune system. This causes inflammation (swelling) and gradually leads to areas of hardened and scarred lung tissue (fibrosis). Lung tissue thats scarred in this way does not function properly.

People who work in the following industries are particularly at risk:

  • stone masonry and stone cuttingespecially with sandstone
  • construction and demolition because of exposure to concrete and
  • paving materials
  • pottery, ceramics and glass manufacturing
  • mining and quarrying
  • sand blasting
Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016