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Proposal to convene a national conference on silica hazards in construction in India -- silica hazards in construction and mining: reducing exposures and preventing disease.

Gottesfeld P
Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, R01-OH-009688, 2009 Dec; :1-8
Occupational Knowledge International hosted a conference on "Silica Hazards in Construction and Mining: Reducing Exposures and Preventing Disease" on December 11-12, 2009 in New Delhi, India. Approximately 120 people attended the conference including representatives from National and State level governments, public health experts, multi-lateral aid agencies, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), trade associations, and silicosis victims. The meeting resulted in a call for a national plan to identify and compensate silicosis victims and to promote the use of silica dust controls in these industries. Airborne silica, generated from stone crushing mills, construction, and mining operations in India is causing an epidemic of silicosis, cancer, and other lung disease. Speakers at the conference indicated that thousands of workers and local residents are exposed to hazardous silica levels from these sources. Studies have shown increased morbidity and mortality among stone crushing mill workers and miners from silicosis, lung cancer, and other lung diseases. One theme expressed throughout the conference was the importance of the link between silica exposure and Tuberculosis (TB) in the local context. Research has shown that silica exposures in stone crushing industries increases the risk of acquiring active TB by nearly seven-fold. Currently, India has the highest TB burden of any country globally, accounting for one fifth of all cases. A recent study in India of over a hundred stone crushing workers showed that 48% had TB alone or in combination with silicosis. In fact, TB is the most common cause of death in those with silicosis, The keynote speaker at the conference indicated that reducing worker exposure to respirable silica would reduce TB incidence among those exposed. Several participants pointed out that construction and stone crushing industries in India are growing rapidly due to extensive development and the current emphasis on improving the country's infrastructure (e.g., road building) resulting in the proliferation of quarries small stone crushing mills. It is estimated that there are more than 12,000 stone crushing units in India, providing direct employment to 500,000. The organized mining industry provides employment to at least 10 million workers in India with thousands more employed in the illegal and informal sector. Many of those employed in these industries are minority migrant laborers and women and children. To raise awareness among key stakeholders and formulate policy recommendations to reduce silica emissions OK International, in partnership with the Public Health Foundation of India, organized this international conference. Specific outcomes of the conference included: A list of policy recommendations to promote the use of dust-control technologies and other means to reduce silica-related disease in India. Increased awareness among Indian NGOs, health professionals, government, trade associations, and others of the need to encourage a multi-sector approach to address occupational silica exposures to prevent silicosis and other diseases. The formation of an executive committee to coordinate efforts to encourage the implementation of conference recommendations and track progress in the future.
Silica-dusts; Silicates; Exposure-levels; Risk-factors; Construction-industry; Milling-industry; Airborne-particles; Cancer; Lung; Lung-disease; Lung-disorders; Lung-function; Diseases; Workers; Work-environment; Hazards; Mortality-rates; Morbidity-rates; Milling-industry; Stone-processing; Stone-grinders; Humans; Men; Women; Children; Dust-exposure; Dust-particles; Dusts; Worker-health
Perry Gottesfeld, MPH, 4444 Geary Blvd., Ste 300, San Francisco, CA 94118
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Final Grant Report
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Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Occupational Knowledge International
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division