Occupational lung diseases are documented among pottery workers since the 16th century. Workers who use porcelain, ceramic and clay products are at risk for exposure to toxic minerals and substances. One of the greatest risks in this industry is exposure to respirable crystalline silica, or silica dust.
When someone inhales silica dust, the particles can attach to the lining of the lungs causing scar tissue and fluid buildup. Over time, this inflammation causes symptoms including:
- Chronic cough
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss
- Swelling of the legs (edema)
Silicosis is an incurable disease. There are, however, treatment options to manage symptoms and slow progression of the disease. People who develop severe silicosis may eventually experience debilitating or even fatal symptoms or complications.
Who is at Risk for Porcelain, Ceramic and Clay Silicosis?
Anyone who works with porcelain, ceramic or clay is at risk for exposure to silica dust. Casting rooms and the process of mixing compounds both present risk for exposure. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognizes this risk and has set guidelines and exposure limits for silica dust. Silicosis is 100 percent preventable.
Sadly, despite efforts to reduce exposure, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 2.3 million workers in the United States are regularly exposed to respirable crystalline silica.
Working with Porcelain and Ceramic
Porcelain and ceramic are both common compounds for making tile that is installed in buildings all over the world. Porcelain and ceramic both contain silica, and grinding or cutting the tile can produce silica dust. The concentration of respirable silica dust increases when workers dry-cut porcelain or ceramic, or cut it in areas with poor ventilation.
Workers who clean porcelain and ceramic tile may also be exposed to dust that is aggravated due to the cleaning work.
Working with Clay
Clay is made of minerals, organic matter, sulfur and large quantities of crystalline silica. People who work with clay mix the dry clay with water and then use it to form clay objects. Workers shape clay by hand, or cast into molds.
Working with clay can be hazardous because the mixing process can create dust. This dust contains crystalline silica particles, which can be harmful to the respiratory system if a worker inhales them. There is a link between clay work and silicosis, which is referred to as “potter’s rot.” Clay work can also cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, asbestosis and lung cancer.
Get Help with a Porcelain, Ceramic and Clay Silicosis Claim
If you work around porcelain, ceramic or clay, you should be mindful of the symptoms of silicosis. Silicosis is a disease that progresses over time, so you may not have symptoms until weeks or even years after exposure. In fact, some people are diagnosed with silicosis decades after being exposed.
Silicosis is preventable. Employers have a responsibility to maintain clean and safe working environments. That includes making sure there is proper ventilation, that employees have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), and that air quality meets OSHA safety standards. If your employer fails to meet these requirements and you develop silicosis, you may have an actionable claim.
Contact Silicosis Help to find out more about your potential porcelain, ceramic and clay silicosis claim. We can certainly help you determine if you have an actionable claim for compensation of your losses related to occupational silicosis. Learn more by calling our Silicosis lawyer at 855-489-7853.