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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Other Names for this Disease
  • Accelerated silicosis
  • Acute silicosis
  • Chronic silicosis
  • Experimental silicosis
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Silicosis is a respiratory disease caused by breathing in (inhaling) silica dust.[1] There are three types of silicosis:[1][2]

  • Simple chronic silicosis, the most common type of silicosis, results from long-term exposure (usually more than 20 years) to low amounts of silica dust. Simple chronic silicosis may cause people to have difficulty breathing. 
  • Accelerated silicosis occurs after 5 to 15 years of exposure of higher levels of silica. Swelling of the lungs and other symptoms occur faster in this type of silicosis than in the simple chronic form. 
  • Acute silicosis results from short-term exposure of large amounts of silica. The lungs become very inflamed and can fill with fluid, causing severe shortness of breath and low blood oxygen levels. Acute silicosis progresses rapidly and can be fatal within months. 

People who work in jobs where they are exposed to silica dust (mining, quarrying, construction, sand blasting, stone cutting) are at risk of developing this condition.[1]

Last updated: 11/3/2010


  1. Kaufman DA. Silicosis. MedlinePlus. 2009; Accessed 11/3/2010.
  2. Understanding Silicosis. American Lung Association. 2010; Accessed 11/3/2010.
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Basic Information

  • You can obtain information on this topic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC is recognized as the lead federal agency for developing and applying disease prevention and control, environmental health, and health promotion and education activities designed to improve the health of the people of the United States.
  • MedlinePlus was designed by the National Library of Medicine to help you research your health questions, and it provides more information about this topic.
  • The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library provides information on this condition. Click on the link to view the information.

In Depth Information

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  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Silicosis. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.