High prevalence of accelerated silicosis among gold miners in Jiangxi, China

Authors

  • Lap Ah Tse MBBS, PhD,

    1. Department of Community & Family Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China
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  • Zhi Min Li MB,

    1. Shenzhen Hospital for the Prevention and Control of Occupational Diseases, Guangdong Province, China
    2. Jiangxi Institute of Labour Hygiene and Occupational Medicine, Jiangxi Province, China
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  • Tze Wai Wong MSc,

    1. Department of Community & Family Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China
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  • Zhen Ming Fu MPhil,

    1. Department of Community & Family Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China
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  • Ignatius Tak Sun Yu MPH

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Community & Family Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China
    • Department of Community & Family Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 4/F School of Public Health, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong SAR, China.
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Abstract

Background

Accelerated silicosis has become uncommon in developed countries, whereas serious health threat still exists in small-scale mining in developing countries. This study was to investigate the prevalence and risk factors of accelerated silicosis among Chinese gold miners.

Methods

A cross-sectional medical examination was conducted among 574 Chinese gold miners. All participants were male rock-drillers. The concentrations of total dust and quartz content were obtained from the government documentations. Descriptive data analyses were performed.

Results

The prevalence of accelerated silicosis was 29.1% (95% CI: 24.8–33.4%, 167 cases) after an average of 5.6 years of dust exposure, and a history of tuberculosis seemed to increase the risk. The concentration of respirable silica dust was estimated to be 89.5 mg/m3 (ranged: 70.2–108.8) in the underground goldmine, far exceeding the permissible exposure limits.

Conclusions

This study illustrates a serious health threat to small-scale goldmine in China and indicates an urgent need for environmental control and disease prevention. Am. J. Ind. Med. 50:876–880, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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