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Silicosis and pneumoconiosis claims

Pneumoconiosis is the general term which refers to a group of diseases caused by inhaling and retaining dust which results in scar tissue (fibrosis) in the lungs. One of the most commonly occurring types of pneumoconiosis, apart from diseases caused by exposure to asbestos, is silicosis arising from the inhalation of silica dust. 

What is silicosis? 

Silicosis is an irreversible lung condition which  is found in people who have inhaled large amounts of silica dust, usually over a prolonged period of time.   
 
Silica is a common, naturally occurring substance found in stones, rocks, clay and sand, as well as products such as bricks, tiles, concrete and some plastic composites. Fine silica dust is released during industrial processes such as cutting, drilling and grinding, when it can be inhaled. If you were not protected from inhaling silica dust in the workplace you may be able to claim compensation.
 
Types of silicosis The length and extent of exposure to silica dust may determine the type of silicosis you develop. 
 
  • Chronic silicosis is most common and usually occurs after 20 years of inhaling silica dust. 
  • Accelerated silicosis occurs when higher levels of silica are inhaled over a shorter period of time, usually between five and 15 years. 
  • Acute silicosis is rare and usually fatal, and occurs after brief exposure to very high levels of silica dust. 

Who is at risk of silicosis? 

You may have been exposed to silica dust if you worked in some of the following industries and may therefore have a higher risk of developing silicosis. 
 
  • Construction
  • Demolition
  • Glass Manufacturing
  • Mining
  • Paving
  • Pottery and Ceramics
  • Sand Blasting
  • Stone Masonry and Cutting

Symptoms and future risks

The most common symptoms of silicosis include:
 
  • Shortness of breath after physical activity 
  • Pro-longed fever 
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Chest pain 
  • Severe cough 
 
Silicosis can also increase the risk of developing other serious conditions. Lung cancer, tuberculosis, heart failure, kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are among the potentially life-threatening diseases resulting from silica exposure.  There is no known treatment for silicosis as the lung damage cannot be reversed.

How is silicosis diagnosed/treated?

It is not always easy to diagnose silicosis as some of the initial symptoms can be quite vague. If you are suffering with silicosis related symptoms, and know that you have worked with silica dust or the products referred to above, it is important to visit your doctor and tell them that you worked in an ‘at-risk’ industry as this is likely to be the best indication for them to identify whether silicosis is causing your problems. 
 
If silicosis is suspected your GP will refer you to a specialist lung doctor (a respiratory physician) for tests such as x-rays, lung function tests and CT scans. 
 
Unfortunately there is no cure for silicosis however there are further steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of you developing further health conditions. Your treating doctors and nurses will be able to provide you with more information in relation to your treatment options.  
 
To speak to one of our experienced industrial disease claim lawyers please phone 020 7650 1200 or complete our enquiry form.

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