Miners working in sandstone mines for over 10 years exposed to risk of Silicosis: Study

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 07 Aug 2017 09:29:03


By Kaushik Bhattacharya

Workers of stone carving industry more exposed to this occupational disease

Prolonged exposure to silica dust in stone mines and stone carving units can cause silicosis disease among miners and workers, reveals a study conducted by city-based National Institute of Miners’ Health (NIMH). The institute found that miners who are working in sandstone mines for over 10 years can become victims of chronic silicosis.

Silicosis is a lung disease caused due to inhalation of dust containing silica. According to NIMH report, Silicosis is not curable because the dust sticks to lungs forever and this affects the expansion capacity of lungs. Due to this, a person suffering from silicosis disease is unable to breath properly, which reduces his/her immunity.

A team of NIMH is working on a three-year research project -- “Multi-centric Study of Dust-related Diseases in Stone Mines and Development of Sustainable Preventive Programme” to evaluate the current status of silicosis and to formulate a sustainable silicosis control programme in stone mines in India.

“NIMH is one of very few institutions which has the expertise in diagnosing silicosis in the country. The diagnosis of silicosis is done after evaluation of chest radiographs using guidelines of ILO Classification for detection of Pneumoconiosis,” Dr S S Nandi, Principal Investigator for Silicosis Project and Assistant Director, NIMH, told ‘The Hitavada’.

“Silicosis is a disease that needs quick attention of the State Governments. As per the guidelines of Director General of Mines Safety (DGMS), every single case of Silicosis has to be notified by doctors to maintain proper records. The final report by NIMH on status of Silicosis disease in India will be prepared by March 2018,” Dr Nandi said.

“Other than in mines, NIMH found a few chronic Silicosis cases among workers in stone carving industry for less than 10 years. It shows that those working in carving workshops are more vulnerable to Silicosis,” Dr Nandi added.
NIMH studied 1,566 cases of Silicosis till date. Already, 1,056 cases are analysed and 510 cases remain to be analysed. Of these 1,056 cases, NIMH has notified 96 cases of Silicosis to DGMS in the first phase of its report.
Nalgonda district in Telangana; Dhoulpur, Jodhpur, and Nagaur districts in Rajasthan and Lalitpur in Bundelkhand region are the places where NIMH conducted its research. The 96 cases which NIMH notified to DGMS are all recorded in three districts of Rajasthan.

“We will initiate next phase of our work in Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and West Bengal in October this year,” said Dr Nandi. “Proper awareness about the disease among miners, workers and mine owners is required. NIMH conducts regular awareness workshops in different mines and also conducts training programmes for doctors to educate them about the disease. Till date, the institute has trained more than 100 doctors in mining industry,” he added.

Collective efforts by administration, doctors, and mine-owners are needed to curb this disease. Hence, NIMH always appeals to the doctors to notify Silicosis cases, and the mine-owners to maintain safety measures for good health of their miners, Dr Nandi said.
According to Dr Anupam Agnihotri, Director, NIMH, “NIMH is the only institution in the world which is exclusively dealing with the occupational and environmental health of the mining and mineral industry. It requires whole-hearted efforts from all stakeholders to prevent occupational disease like Silicosis.”