Master of advanced studies

Occupational Disease Burden due to Crystalline Silica in Switzerland from 2005 to 2014

ContributorsKoller, Michael
DirectorsWilks, Martin
Master program titleMaster of Advanced Studies in Toxicology
Defense date2017-11-13

Introduction: The aim of this study was to describe quartz dust exposures and quartz dust related diseases in Switzerland between 2005 and 2014. Therefore, Suva's (Schweizerische Unfallversicherungsanstalt) internal databases and medical dossiers as well as the SSUV (Sammelstelle für die Statistik der Unfallversichung) database were analyzed. Results: The median alveolar quartz dust concentration was 0,09 mg/m3. 28% of all measurements were above the current Swiss OEL (occupational exposure limit) of 0,15 mg/m3 (alveolar fraction), and 39% of all workers had an acquired silica burden higher than the burden which one would accumulate when working at a silica dust concentration at the Swiss OEL during a whole working life time. 46% of all workers were exposed to quartz dust for the first time before the current OEL in Switzerland was introduced in 1975. 179 workers suffered from silicosis and two had quartz dust related COPDs (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Of these, eight workers also had lung cancer and 55 suffered from COPD (not further specified). The yearly incidence of silicosis in Switzerland has been at a stable level of below twenty cases for about twenty years. 73% of all workers were born abroad where they had worked on average 13 years before coming to Switzerland. The percentage of ever-smoker was high (75%). The workers with lung cancer or COPD had about two to nearly three times more pack years than the ones without. Discussion: The most important findings of the master thesis which could help to interpret the ongoing occurrence of silicosis are likely to include quartz dust concentrations exceeding the OEL, the high percentage of workers who started work before introduction of the current Swiss OEL in 1975, the acquirement of quartz burden in other countries before immigrating into Switzerland, the poor compliance in wearing personal protective measures, the high percentage of smokers which facilitates development of silicosis, lung cancer and other diseases, or false positive diagnosis e.g. due to the high background level of small dense opacities in X-rays of the chest.

  • Silica
  • Crystalline silicium dioxide
  • Silicosis
  • Quartz
  • Occupational disease
  • Lung cancer
  • Switzerland
Citation (ISO format)
KOLLER, Michael. Occupational Disease Burden due to Crystalline Silica in Switzerland from 2005 to 2014. 2017.
Main files (1)
Master thesis
  • PID : unige:157392

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