Dust: The Silicosis Hazard in American Industry
by Leonard Greenburg, M.D.
Executive Director, Division of Industrial Hygiene, New York State
Department of Labor
A third method of preventing silicosis is
to enclose the process as completely as is possible without interfering
with work, the worker being outside the enclosure and so removed
from the dusty zone.
A fourth method
of dust control is to withdraw the dust laden air from the workplace.
This is done by providing exhaust hoods or enclosures equipped
with suction ventilation as the photographs show.
industrial processes it is impossible to protect the worker by
any of these methods. In such cases the workers must wear masks
or respirators which filter the dust from the air before it enters
the respiratory tract, or use helmets which cover the head and
are supplied with clean air through a hose line. But such equipment,
while highly efficient when properly maintained, is cumbersome
and the worker is apt to find its use a burden. It should only
be employed where other methods do not adequately clear the air.
If every industry
today utilized the known engineering means to control dust hazards
in shops and workrooms, our problem would not be completely met
but certainly we should be a long way toward its practical solution.
There is need for a program of education and guidance which will
help industry understand the silicosis problem and the most efficient
means of solving it. Common lawsuits for damages, the passage
of compensation acts, the Gauley Bridge water tunnel and other
tragic experiences have served to make employers silicosis conscious.
Industry shows an increasing readiness to cooperate in eliminating
the dust hazard from its work places.
the field of public health is, as a rule, not achieved until those
vitally concerned become aware of the bearing of a suggested program
on their own well being. Publicity and educational effort have
thus become vital to the public health movement. Frequently the
public is convinced of the importance of public health measures
without being aware of educational propaganda. A small epidemic
may achieve wide educational results.
It is characteristic
of the public health movement that the transfer of information
from physicians and research workers to the general public marks
the final stage in the conquest of disease. There is great likelihood
that this will be proved true once again and that the attack on
silicosis which is now developing marks the real beginning of
the eradication of dust hazards in American industry.
|FIVE hundred thousand American
wage earners breathe quartz dust as they work, according
to the figures of Lenz and Vane of the Metropolitan Life
Insurance Company. But by no means all these workers are
potential silicosis victims, for many of them are exposed
to low concenbations of dust, or to dust relatively low
in quartz content.
|Building and Highway Construction
Works, Stone Product
Sand Blasting, etc.
|Anthracite Coal Mining
|Quarrying of Granite,
|Smelting and Refining