Long-term exposure to silica dust increases risk of death in industrial workers

April 17, 2012

Industrial workers who have been chronically exposed to silica dust are at substantially higher risk of death from all causes than workers who have not been exposed. Furthermore, the risk of death, especially from lung and cardiovascular diseases increases with increasing exposure, according to a study from Chinese researchers published in this week's PLoS Medicine.

The researchers, led by Weihong Chen from the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, studied 74,040 workers who were employed for at least one year at 29 different Chinese metal mines and pottery factories between 1960 and 1974, and then followed up until the end of 2003.

The researchers found that death from all causes was higher among workers exposed to silica dust compared to workers who were not exposed to silica dust (993 versus 551 deaths per 100,000 person-years). In addition, increasing exposure increased the risk of death from all causes, , respiratory tuberculosis, and .

Importantly, the researchers found that at silica concentrations at or below the workplace exposure limit set by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (0.1mg/m3 ), there were many more deaths (up to 11 times more) than in the general population. Furthermore, the researchers estimated that in 2008, 4.2% of deaths among industrial workers in China were attributable to silica dust exposure.

The authors conclude: "Long-term silica dust exposure was associated with substantially increased mortality among . The increased risk was observed not only for deaths due to respiratory diseases and , but also for deaths due to cardiovascular disease."

They add: "Findings from this study have important public health implications for improving occupational safety among those exposed to silica dust in China and around the world."

Explore further: Studies show exposure to diesel exhaust may increase lung cancer mortality

More information: Chen W, Liu Y, Wang H, Hnizdo E, Sun Y, et al. (2012) Long-Term Exposure to Silica Dust and Risk of Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in Chinese Workers: A Cohort Study. PLoS Med 9(4): e1001206. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001206

Related Stories

Studies show exposure to diesel exhaust may increase lung cancer mortality

March 2, 2012
Heavy diesel exhaust (DE) exposure in humans may increase the risk of dying from lung cancer, according to two papers released March 2nd by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Asbestos workers at significantly increased risk of heart disease/strokes

April 2, 2012
Workers exposed to asbestos as part of their job are at significantly greater risk of heart disease and stroke than the general population, finds research published online in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

WTC workers exposed earlier to dust cloud have higher risk of atherosclerotic lesions

November 16, 2011
In the first study using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to evaluate cardiovascular risk in World Trade Center (WTC) first responders, researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine have found that the responders who experienced ...

Increased clumsiness in former welders

February 6, 2012
Welders who are exposed to manganese from welding fumes, risk developing increased clumsiness – and the result may remain decades after exposure has ceased. This is the finding of a study at the University of Gothenburg, ...

Recommended for you

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.

Scientists develop new supplement that can repair, rejuvenate muscles in older adults

July 18, 2017
Whey protein supplements aren't just for gym buffs according to new research from McMaster university. When taken on a regular basis, a combination of these and other ingredients in a ready-to-drink formula have been found ...

Study: Eating at 'wrong time' affects body weight, circadian rhythms

July 18, 2017
A new high-precision feeding system for lab mice reinforces the idea that the time of day food is eaten is more critical to weight loss than the amount of calories ingested.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.