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Treatment & Prevention

There is currently no known cure for silicosis. The disease may be treated with antibiotics, steroids, or supplemental oxygen to ease some of the symptoms, and regular check-ups are scheduled to prevent complications from the disease. In the later stages of chronic silicosis, a lung transplant may provide a chance of survival.

Prevention is the key to eliminating this disease

Encouragingly, there has been a marked decrease in the number of silicosis cases since the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) implemented regulations that require the use of protective equipment when working with silica dust.

Silicosis is prevented by avoiding inhalation of dust containing free crystalline silica.

Alice Hamilton (1869-1970), a pioneer occupational physician and hygienist who conducted major studies on silicosis in the USA, said: "obviously the way to attack silicosis is to prevent the formation and escape of dust…”

  • At the turn of the 20th century in Vermont, introduction of pneumatic tools to the granite cutting industry was followed by a dramatic rise in death rate from silicosis. (Pneumatic tools generated much larger quantities of free crystalline silica-containing dust.) In the late 1930s, dust control measures were introduced and the number of new cases of disease gradually decreased, until there were virtually none by 1967.
  • In Switzerland, stricter controls in the 1970s and 1980s led to approximately six-fold reduction in the number of silicosis cases per year (many residual from previous exposure).

In view of the world-wide magnitude of occupational exposure to dust and prevalence of silicosis and other occupational dust-related diseases, as well as an acute need for increased preventive action, the World Health Organization (WHO) started, under the Prevention and Control Exchange (PACE) Initiative, programs to train people in developing countries in the prevention and control of dust exposure in the work environment. In 1995, the International Labor Organization (ILO) combined with WHO to create the International Program on the Global Elimination of Silicosis, a program aimed at the global reduction and eventual elimination of silicosis.

It includes:

  • the formulation of national, regional and global action plans;
  • mobilization of resources for the application of primary and secondary prevention;
  • epidemiological surveillance;
  • monitoring and evaluation of results;
  • and the strengthening of the required national capabilities and the establishment of national programs.

Although awareness of silicosis is increasing globally, there is a general apathy that still plagues many industries in the U.S. It may be costly to initiate preventative measures, so many employers will overlook silicosis safety measures. It is up to individuals to take a stand against this disease.

To determine the presence of silica in your workplace you should:

  • Identify factors that indicate probable use of silica
  • Check product labels
  • Check the Material Safety Data Sheets

Read How To Protect Yourself


If you’ve been exposed to silica,
contact a Silicosis attorney



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