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What is silicosis?

Silicosis is an occupational lung disease caused by breathing in silica dust. Inhaling this dust causes inflammation which, over time, leads to scarring of the lung tissue and stiffening of the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Silicosis is a chronic condition that currently has no cure.

What causes silicosis?

Silicosis is caused by breathing in silica dust. Silica dust is generated when silica-containing materials, such as engineered stone, concrete, mortar or natural sources like shale and granite, are cut, crushed, drilled, ground, polished, sanded, sawed or disturbed with force. These actions produce visible dust, but it’s the smaller dust particles that you can’t always see that stay in the air and when breathed in, can penetrate deep into the lungs.

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How can I protect myself from getting silicosis?

The best way to protect yourself from developing silicosis is reducing your exposure to silica dust. The most effective way to reduce your exposure is by following the Hierarchy of Controls. 

Industry resources

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Construction industry

Silica is a naturally occurring mineral that can be found in soil, sand, granite and many commercial products such as engineered (artificial) stone, bricks, tiles, concrete and mortar. These resources provide information on how you can manage your exposure to silica dust and reduce your risk.

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Manufacturing industry

Silica is a naturally occurring mineral that can be found in soil, sand, granite and many commercial products such as engineered (artificial) stone, bricks, tiles, concrete and mortar. These resources provide information on how you can manage your exposure to silica dust and reduce your risk. 

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Mining and quarrying industry

Silica is found in most mining and quarrying operations because it occurs naturally in the earth’s crust. It can be found in most rock, limestone, and sandstone.  These resources provide information on how you can manage your exposure to silica dust and reduce your risk.

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Tunnelling industry

Silica dust can be found in most rock, limestone, and sandstone during tunnelling but also in concrete or cement building materials that may be used during the tunnel demolition phase. These resources provide information on how you can manage your exposure to silica dust and reduce your risk.

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Silicosis Support Service

Are you or your loved one impacted by silicosis? Click the button below for support.

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Ask an expert webinar series

FAQ on Silica Dust

Hear from expert occupational hygienist and engineer, Kate Cole OAM, on all things silica dust. In this webinar, learn about what silica dust is, what you can do to protect yourself, and how control measures are used to reduce silica dust in the workplace.
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Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) and Silica Dust

In this webinar, hear from Mark Reggers, an expert occupational hygienist in respirator equipment. The webinar dives into everything you need to know about respirators, how to use them, and which are the best for certain circumstances. The webinar ends with a short Q&A discussion.

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