Introduction The risk to health for workers exposed to silica is well established, however the number of workers exposed is less well known, particularly in developing economies. In order to successfully address the issue of exposure and its effects an accurate assessment of the problem is required. The emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) are major geopolitical entities with diverse industrial economies, acting as indicators of development in there respective geographical areas, making them ideal as a focal point on which assessments may be focused.
Methods A narrative literature review was performed to provide information regarding the key industrial areas for exposure in each of the BRICS nations. Where available qualitative estimates on the key industries associated with silica exposure in each Nation were determined.
Results Due to similarities in the economic and industrial landscape of the BRICS mining was the most common exposure cause, with high levels also seen in construction and manufacturing. Neither detailed nor approximate records of exposure where available from any of the Nations, although non-industry specific estimates could be accessed for each Nation with the exception of Russia, where very little published information was available.
Conclusion Future efforts to reduce exposure are dependent on an accurate assessment and recording of exposure levels. Currently there is very little large-scale empirical data available from any of the Nations assessed though with the exception of Russia all of the Nations profiled have some publically available records through both academic research and governmental monitoring. From this review it is apparent that further work is required by industry and governments to provide and publish accurate data regarding silica exposure.
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