Progressive Massive Fibrosis (PMF) or Silicosis is a chronic disease of the lungs.  Exposure to crystalline silica dust, common in occupations involving mining, quarrying, sand blasting, construction of roads and buildings and stone cutting, results in this debilitating lung disease.  These tiny dust particles become airborne and infiltrate breathing space, thereby causing inhalation of the dust which becomes lodged in the lungs.  Once in the lungs, these crystalline dust particles accumulate, causing irreversible damage and breathing difficulty.

Symptoms

Symptoms include, but are not limited to, shortness of breath, chronic bronchitis, weight loss, chronic cough, autoimmune deficiency and pulmonary dysfunction.  Chronic silicosis may well go undetected for 10 – 20 years, except in the case of accelerated silicosis (5 – 15 years) after exposure as it is a progressive disease in nature.

Tests and Detection

Your healthcare provider may ask that you provide a complete medical and occupational history, provide routine physical exams, and a lifestyle questionnaire to ascertain your possible exposure to silica.

Tests your healthcare provider may order include:

Serologic tests for connective tissue diseases

Pulmonary function tests

Purified protein derivative (PPD) skin test for tuberculosis (TB)

Chest x-ray

Chest CT scan

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for silicosis; however, limiting your exposure to irritants, quitting smoking and routine TB skin tests are suggested to slow the affects of the disease.  Of course, you should see your healthcare provider on a regular basis to monitor any changes.  Supportive treatment may include cough medicine, bronchodilators, and oxygen (if needed).

Silicosis creates a high risk of people developing TB due to the autoimmune suppression caused by silica which makes it difficult for the body to fight the bacteria that cause TB.  For this reason, people should have skin tests to check for exposure to TB.  Any changes in the appearance of a chest x-ray may also be a sign of TB.

Outcomes and Complications

·         Lung cancer

·         Progressive massive fibrosis

·         Respiratory failure

·         Tuberculosis (TB)

·  Connective tissue disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma and systemic lupus erythematosus

Prevention

If you work or live in an environment that is high-risk for exposure to silica, it is suggested to wear dust masks, utilize a respirator and do not smoke.

If you or a loved one has been exposed to crystalline silica dust and have been diagnosed with Progressive Massive Fibrosis, Silicosis, pneumoconiosis (black lung) or some other occupational disease due to occupational dust exposure, please call the Shelton Law Group at 1-888-761-7204 or (502) 409-6460, or visit us at www.robsheltonlaw.com for a free case evaluation.  We take your case personally.