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Respiratory conditions | Research/studies | Silica | Construction | Workplace exposures

Most construction workers exposed to silica at risk of disease: study

February 3, 2014

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Montreal – Most construction workers exposed to crystalline silica dust are at risk of developing occupational diseases over the long term, a new report from scientific research organization IRSST suggests.

IRSST and University of Montreal researchers examined a literature-based database of the levels of occupational exposure to silica. The database contains more than 10,000 exposure measurements found in a variety of other databases, journals and reports collected from literature published in the past 25 years.

Researchers identified the professions and tasks associated with the highest exposures and found exposure levels for an eight-hour work shift exceeded acceptable levels for both the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists’ threshold limit value and Quebec’s regulatory standard for silica. Exposure to silica dust is known to cause a variety of respiratory diseases, including cancer.

In related news, IRSST also published a fact sheet on workplace carcinogens, including silica dust. The fact sheet covers the different forms that carcinogens can take (including dust and fibers), how the carcinogen enters the body and examples of prevention methods.