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Introduction to occupational epidemiology and industrial hygiene: a web-based case study on silicosis in sandblasters.

Malit-BD; Lentz-TJ
ICOH 2002 Oct; :103-104
Recognized as a longstanding occupational hazard, silicosis (a preventable occupational disease) affects the health of workers worldwide. China reports 6,000 new cases annually, while the cumulative number of diagnosed cases has reached 9,000 in Vietnam and more than 4,500 in one region of Brazil alone. Within the United States, exposure to airborne crystalline silica affects at least 1.7 million workers, accounting for more than 200 silicosis deaths yearly and an unknown number of deaths from related diseases such as tuberculosis and lung cancer. Workers who perform abrasive blasting using silica sand are especially at risk for developing silicosis. Focusing on this occupational health hazard, NIOSH researchers developed an Internet-based educational module that presents occupational epidemiology and industrial hygiene concepts. The module was developed for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) EXCITE web site, an educational resource for high school teachers. The EXCITE program is designed to introduce high school students to epidemiology and public health. Using the example of a silicosis outbreak among sandblasters in Texas, the module describes how a multidisciplinary team of investigators traced the disease to an occupational exposure source. Students are challenged with questions about the investigation and possible hazard control strategies. Illustrations indicate analytic techniques, engineering controls, personal protective equipment, and work practices. The module is written in an easy-to-read format, and provides the basis for a NIOSH worker education publication to address the risk of silicosis for sandblasters and methods to control hazards. Information from the module has been published as DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2002-105, Silicosis in Sandblasters: a case study adapted for use in the U.S. high schools. The document is also available by downloading from the NIOSH Web site at
Epidemiology; Industrial-hygiene; Silicosis; Sand-blasters; Sand-blasting; Occupational-hazards; Hazards; Worker-health; Airborne-dusts; Airborne-particles; Silica-dusts; Lung-cancer; Analytical-methods; Engineering-controls; Personal-protective-equipment; Personal-protection; Work-practices; Training
Publication Date
Document Type
Abstract; Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Source Name
Best Practices in Occupational Safety and Health, Education, Training, and Communication: Ideas That Sizzle, 6th International Conference, Scientific Committee on Education and Training in Occupational Health, ICOH, In Cooperation with The International Communication Network, ICOH, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, October 28-30, 2002
Page last reviewed: April 12, 2019
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division