Diseases associated with exposure to silica and nonfibrous silicate minerals. Silicosis and Silicate Disease Committee

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 1988 Jul;112(7):673-720.


Silicosis, a disease of historical importance, continues to occur cryptically today. Its pathogenesis is under ongoing study as new concepts of pathobiology evolve. In this article, the gross and microscopic features of the disease in the lungs and the lesions in lymph nodes and other viscera are described. These tissue changes are then discussed in the context of clinical disease and other possible or established complications of silica exposure (ie, scleroderma and rheumatoid arthritis, glomerulonephritis, and bronchogenic carcinoma). Silicates are members of a large family of common minerals, some of which have commercial importance. Silicates are less fibrogenic than silica when inhaled into the lungs, but cause characteristic lesions after heavy prolonged exposure. The features of these disease conditions are described herein. Various aspects of the mineralogy and tissue diagnosis of silicosis and lung disease due to silicates are reviewed. An overview of contemporary regulatory considerations is provided.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aluminum Silicates
  • Carcinoma, Bronchogenic / etiology
  • Collagen Diseases / etiology
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / etiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Maximum Allowable Concentration
  • Pulmonary Alveolar Proteinosis / etiology
  • Radiography
  • Silicon Dioxide / adverse effects
  • Silicosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Silicosis / etiology
  • Silicosis / pathology*
  • Talc


  • Aluminum Silicates
  • Talc
  • Silicon Dioxide