University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical College of Wisconsin

Silicosis: Emerging Trends and How to Screen for Early Detection

Megan Elderbrook, MPH; Robert Harrison, MD; Barbara Grajewski, PhD; Carrie Tomasallo, PhD; Jonathan Meiman, MD

WMJ. 2023;122(2):114-117.

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Background: National investigations are finding silicosis in young workers. We developed a silicosis case-finding process and conducted follow-up interviews to identify emerging exposure sources.

Methods: Probable cases were identified through Wisconsin hospital discharge and emergency department data and Wisconsin lung transplant programs. Interviews were attempted with case-patients under age 60.

Results: We identified 68 probable silicosis cases and interviewed 4 case-patients. Occupational exposures for cases under age 60 included sandblasting, quarry work, foundry work, coal mining, and stone fabrication. Two stone fabrication workers were diagnosed before age 40.

Discussion: Prevention is critically important to eliminate occupational silicosis. Clinicians should obtain the occupational and exposure history to identify cases of occupational lung disease and notify public health to identify and prevent workplace exposures.

Author Affiliations: Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health, Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Madison, Wisconsin (Elderbrook, Grajewski, Tomasallo, Meiman); Occupational Health Branch, California Department of Public Health, Richmond, California (Harrison).
Corresponding Author: Megan Elderbrook, MPH, Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health, Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 1 W Wilson, Rm 150, Madison, WI 53603; phone 608.267.4796; email
Funding/Support: This work was supported by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: State Occupational Health and Safety Surveillance Program 5U60OH010898-03 July 1, 2016-August 31, 2020.
Financial Disclosures: None declared.
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