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Preventing pneumoconiosis and eliminating silicosis: opportunities and illusions.

Wagner GR
Advances in the Prevention of Occupational Respiratory Diseases, 1998 Jul; :3-11
In 1939 the first of this series of ILO-sponsored conferences was held in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was called the International Conference on Silicosis and focuses on the need to do something about this disease that was rampant throughout the world. Recommendations for improved recognition and prevention of silicosis resulted from that meeting. While much has been achieved since that conference, it is still fitting to begin this 9th International Conference on Occupational Respiratory Diseases with consideration of where things stand in the area of silicosis prevention. I will begin by briefly describing silicosis-relevant experience from the USA, then more on to some of the basic questions we must confront to make further progress on silicosis elimination: 1. Why should we care about silicosis in 1997? 2. What are the results of international silicosis prevention efforts? 3. Why is silicosis prevention so difficult? 4. What would silicosis elimination mean? 5. How can the barriers to silicosis elimination be overcome? Silicosis persists worldwide, despite long-standing knowledge of its cause- excessive exposure to respirable crystalline silica- and extensive knowledge of the means to control it. The historical experience of the USA is instructive. Silicosis came to national attention in the 1930s when hundreds of tunnelers died form acute and accelerated silicosis as a result of working on a hydroelectric project in Gauley Bridge, West Virginia. The infamous Hawk's Nest Tunnel was created by cutting through over 3 miles of high-quartz sandstone [1]. Although long recognized nationally and internationally as an important disease, the enormity of the tragedy at Hawk's Nest brought governmental hearings and a commitment to respond.
Silicosis; Disease-prevention; Dust-exposure; Dust-inhalation; Respirators; Miners; Safety-education; Author Keywords: ILO; pneumoconiosis; prevention; silicosis; WHO
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, Morgantown, WV 26505
Publication Date
Chiyotani K; Hosoda Y; Aizawa Y
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Source Name
Advances in the Prevention of Occupational Respiratory Diseases, Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Occupational Respiratory Diseases
Page last reviewed: October 1, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division