Silicosis is a respiratory disease caused by breathing in (inhaling) silica dust. There are three types of silicosis:
Simple chronic silicosis, the most common type of silicosis, results from long-term exposure (usually more than 20 years) to low amounts of silica dust. Simple chronic silicosis may cause people to have difficulty breathing.
Accelerated silicosis occurs after 5 to 15 years of exposure of higher levels of silica. Swelling of the lungs and other symptoms occur faster in this type of silicosis than in the simple chronic form.
Acute silicosis results from short-term exposure of large amounts of silica. The lungs become very inflamed and can fill with fluid, causing severe shortness of breath and low blood oxygen levels. Acute silicosis progresses rapidly and can be fatal within months.
People who work in jobs where they are exposed to silica dust (mining, quarrying, construction, sand blasting, stone cutting) are at risk of developing this condition. Source: Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD), supported by ORDR-NCATS and NHGRI.