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Short Report
Artificial stone-associated silicosis: a rapidly emerging occupational lung disease
  1. Ryan F Hoy1,
  2. Timothy Baird2,
  3. Gary Hammerschlag3,
  4. David Hart4,
  5. Anthony R Johnson5,
  6. Paul King6,
  7. Michael Putt2,
  8. Deborah H Yates7
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2Department of Respiratory Medicine, Nambour General Hospital, Nambour, Queensland, Australia
  3. 3Department of Respiratory Medicine, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  4. 4Department of Respiratory Medicine, St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  5. 5Department of Thoracic Medicine, Liverpool Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  6. 6Department of Respiratory Medicine, Monash Medical Centre/ Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia
  7. 7Department of Thoracic Medicine, St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ryan F Hoy, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne Victoria 3004, Australia; DrRyanHoy{at}gmail.com

Abstract

Introduction Artificial stone is an increasingly popular material used to fabricate kitchen and bathroom benchtops. Cutting and grinding artificial stone is associated with generation of very high levels of respirable crystalline silica, and the frequency of cases of severe silicosis associated with this exposure is rapidly increasing.

Aim To report the characteristics of a clinical series of Australian workers with artificial stone-associated silicosis.

Methods Respiratory physicians voluntarily reported cases of artificial stone-associated silicosis identified in their clinical practices. Physicians provided information including occupational histories, respiratory function tests, chest radiology and histopathology reports, when available.

Results Seven male patients were identified with a median age of 44 years (range 26–61). All were employed in small kitchen and bathroom benchtop fabrication businesses with an average of eight employees (range 2–20). All workplaces primarily used artificial stone, and dust control measures were poor. All patients were involved in dry cutting artificial stone. The median duration of exposure prior to symptoms was 7 years (range 4–10). Six patients demonstrated radiological features of progressive massive fibrosis. These individuals followed up over a median follow-up period of 16 months (IQR 21 months) demonstrated rapid decline in prebronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 s of 386 mL/year (SD 204 mL) and forced vital capacity of 448 mL/year (SD 312 mL).

Conclusions This series of silicosis in Australian workers further demonstrates the risk-associated high-silica content artificial stone. Effective dust control and health surveillance measures need to be stringently implemented and enforced in this industry.

  • silicosis
  • pneumoconioses

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Footnotes

  • Contributors All listed authors contributed to the development of the manuscript, identification and revision of case data and review of final manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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