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Lung cancer typically follows a lifetime of poor health habits, but prolonged exposure to tobacco products is the main culprit. In fact, cigarette smoke, which contains more than 7,000 chemicals, is associated with an 80 to 90 percent risk of lung cancer deaths. One seemingly harmless pastime, however, may increase exposure to carcinogenic chemical silica, which is also linked to lung cancer.
There is evidence that certain practices such as pottery, may be affected by silica dust.
In one study of 106 Pottery workers, findings revealed that 55 percent had at least some stage of Silicosis.
It was revealed that the disease ranged from stage 1, which had an average dust exposure time of 7.5 years, to stage 3 of Silicosis, with an average exposure of 16 years.
The correlation between dust exposure and Silicosis diagnosis was directly linked in the study.
What’s more, a lack of precautionary measures added to the risk that the workers were at.
Silicosis is a well-known consequence of prolonged exposure to silica dust, and the condition has been linked to several conditions linked to the lungs.
It has also been linked to a substantially higher risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease in some work.
According to the NHS: “Silica is a substance naturally found in certain types of stone, rock, sand and clay.”
Silicosis usually develops after 10 to 20 years of exposure to the particles, although it can develop in a shorter space of time.
Occasionally, it can occur after only a few months of very heavy exposure to the dust.
What’s more, the particles of the dust are so thin they can lurk in the air for up to 12 days, according to Jenkins Environmental Services.
“Working with these materials can create a very fine dust that can be easily inhaled,” explains the NHS.
“Once inside the lungs, it causes swelling (inflammation) and gradually leads to areas of hardened and scarred lung tissue (fibrosis).”
The Enviroklenz website explains: “There are a few practices that should become standard for you to perform as a smart potter to lessen your chance of developing Silicosis […].
“Providing an additional means of filtration to your pottery study can do the heavy cleaning that a simple HVAC system is incapable of.
“Quality air purifiers will capture the silica dust particle and retain them in their filters, which can significantly reduce a potter’s exposure to the silica, further lessening their chances of developing the illness.”
Due to the nature of their work, factory, mine and masonry workers are at the greatest risk for silicosis.
Once the chemical has entered the system it can lead to chest pain, fever, night sweats, weight loss and respiratory failure.
It comes as a new study has warned as many as 10,000 Australians are predicted to develop lung cancer in their lifetime from being exposed to silica dust.
The increased prevalence of silicosis in the nation is believed to result from the increased use of engineered stone in kitchen bench tops.
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