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.
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.
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.
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.