Background: Occupational exposure to free silica is widespread in several economic sectors and is well known to cause silicosis. This study was designed to establish a database of enterprises and workers in industrial sectors involving silica exposure in Italy and to estimate the number of workers potentially at high risk of exposure.
Methods: The industrial sectors at risk of silica exposure were identified by selecting the industrial sector that employed people who were compensated for silicosis in 2000-2004. The enterprises and the number of workers (blue-collar) potentially at risk of silica exposure were selected from the Italian database of workplaces.
Results: The number of workers potentially at high risk of silica exposure, were 28,712. The most involved sectors were: construction, mining and quarrying, metal working, and manufacturing of non-metallic products. Among regions in Italy, some exposure-disease scenarios were cited in literature, particularly in Sardinia, Liguria, and Tuscany.
Conclusions: Establishing a database of industries related to silica dust exposure and identifying the number of workers potentially at high risk can be useful to reinforce preventive measures and to control exposure.
Copyright 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.