NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search
Is silica or radon daughters the important factor in the excess lung cancer among underground miners?
Archer VE; Roscoe JR; Brown D
Silica, silicosis, and cancer: controversy in occupational medicine. Goldsmith DF, Winn DM, Shy CM, eds. New York: Praeger, 1986 Jan; :375-384
Rates of silicosis and lung cancer were compared among five mining and milling groups selected on the basis of degrees of their exposures to quartz (14808607) dust and radon daughters. Comparison of groups of miners with different levels of exposure was used to determine the respective effects of the two agents on lung cancer incidence. When quartz dust levels were high, silicosis rates were high, but lung cancer rates were not consistent; when radiation levels were high, respiratory cancer rates were high, but pneumoconiosis rates were not consistent. Results indicated that the two effects of mine exposures were largely independent, although there may have been some minor interaction between the two disease producing agents. The Swedish mining experience in which ventilation flowed through old mine workings to warm the air was particularly helpful. The use of large volumes of air lowered the airborne quartz concentrations greatly but tended to increase the radon daughter levels. The frequency of silicosis was markedly reduced in later mining cohorts whereas the lung cancer rates either rose or remained unchanged. According to the authors, results suggest that silica and radon daughter exposures are associated with different diseases and act independently. Epidemiological evidence appeared to rule out a major role for silica in respiratory cancer in underground miners.
Lung-cancer; Humans; Epidemiology; Quartz-dust; Air-contamination; Radiation-exposure; Mine-workers; Occupational-respiratory-disease; Cancer-rates
Goldsmith DF; Winn DM; Shy CM
Silica, silicosis, and cancer: controversy in occupational medicine
Page last reviewed: November 13, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division