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1.2 Course Rationale


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that, although in many industrialised countries incidence of silicosis in is decreasing, in most parts of the world the disease is widespread with millions of workers exposed to high levels of dust containing respirable crystalline silica.

Globally diseases, such as silicosis, caused by to exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) are a huge problem.  The WHO has estimated that between 30 and 35% of workers in primary industries and high risk sectors in developing countries may develop serious disease due to exposure to RCS.  In 2013 China had a silicosis mortality rate of 0.4 per 100,000 of population. This means that in 2013 more than 5000 workers a year in China were dying of silicosis.   In India it is estimated that 10 million workers in India at risk of developing silicosis and the mortality rate due to this disease is five times higher than in China.  Brazil has an estimated 2 million workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica dust and the prevalence of silicosis is between 3.5 % in quarries and 23.6% in ship building and repair.  Construction and demolition workers around the world have been shown to be occupations that are at particularly high risk because of their high exposure to respirable crystalline silica.

There is convincing evidence that the incidence of disease related to RCS exposure can be significantly reduced by well organised prevention programmes. Such programmes will provide an awareness of the health effects of exposure and how simple control measures can reduce the risk of related disease.