Tobacco and crystal silica
In the granite sector, silicosis is one of the most frequent occupational diseases and its development is due to an accumulation of silica dust in the lungs with a pathological reaction to it, especially of the fibrous type. This disease can be avoided by reducing and controlling the amount of dust in the work environment and performing periodic medical tests. It is very important to detect it at its early stages; since, although there is no treatment, it is a preventable disease.
The consumption of tobacco is very harmful to health; it is the first preventable cause of disease and premature death in Spain. Tobacco is addictive because it contains nicotine, an addictive drug that may create an important dependence.
Silica dust and tobacco negatively affect respiratory function, and have an enhancer effect when they occur at the same time.
Studies have been carried out that demonstrate the existence of a direct relationship between the habitual consumption of tobacco and the increase in the absorption of silica dust, with the following increase in the risk of the appearance and aggravation of various pulmonary diseases, such as COPD or lung cancer.
If the worker is a smoker, the clinical symptoms may overlap and produce a delay in diagnosis and thus accelerate the progress of the disease.
Information on the tobacco hazards for heath is quite extensive, although smokers always tend to minimize the risks of tobacco. If the tobacco habit is added to a work activity that involves exposure to silica, the consequences can be disastrous for the worker.
The worker must be aware of the risks of tobacco, the life expectancy and the socioeconomic costs of diseases derived from tobacco, in order to achieve the eradication of this toxic habit. Likewise, companies must implement the best available techniques for the minimization of crystal silica concentrations in workplaces.