Silicosis cases rise
Reports say there has been a nationwide surge in new silicosis cases.
Figures obtained by the ABC suggest there are now 260 cases across Australia, with 166 in Queensland, 61 in Victoria, 23 in NSW, 5 in Tasmania, 3 in WA, and 1 each in the ACT and SA.
Queensland reported just 53 diagnosed cases last November.
The spate of illness is allegedly linked to the cutting of engineered stone materials.
Engineered stone contained silica at levels of up to 90 per cent, which is released in the form of dust and fine particles when it is cut and polished.
“It gets down into the bottom of the lung and that triggers a scarring reaction in the lung,” Dr Graeme Edwards, occupational physician and member of the national taskforce on silicosis and other dust diseases, has told reporters.
“Essentially it clogs up and distorts the lung so it can't work. I'm aware of two deaths, one in Queensland and one in NSW. I'm aware of at least two transplants. And I know that there are more people being lined up for potential lung transplants.”
Dr Edwards said Australia is only seeing the start of the problem.
“We're talking in the hundreds, some will die within 12 months, some will die within five years,” he said.
“Most will be terminal in that five to 10, 15-year mark.”