During the past 2 decades, silica sand has been used widely in sandblasting denim in Turkey, which has resulted in an epidemic of silicosis. This study was conducted to summarize the clinical outcomes of formerly healthy young people who became disabled or died because of working in the textile industry.
The medical records of patients with silicosis due to denim sandblasting who were seen at our institution between 2001 and 2009 were reviewed. Follow-up data were assessed. Compensation and vital status of patients were determined, and survival analysis was performed.
Thirty-two male patients diagnosed with silicosis due to denim sandblasting over an 8-year period were identified. Mean age was 31.5 years. They worked as denim sandblasters for a mean 66.4 h/wk for a median 28.5 months. Their mean cumulative exposure time to silica sand was 12,957 h. The median follow-up period was 29 months (range 3-101 months). The median latency period (time elapsed between initial exposure and diagnosis) was 5.5 years (range 2-14 years). Six of the followed patients (19%) died of progressive massive fibrosis. Nine of the patients (28%) were compensated because of silicosis. Just two patients with silicosis received compensation before they died. The mean survival rate was 78 months. The estimated 5-year survival rate was 69% for denim sandblasters with silicosis.
Silicosis in young individuals after exposure in the textile sector suggests a lack of awareness of the hazards of silica outside of the traditional occupations associated with silicosis. Death from silicosis in young people suggests overexposure and unsafe working conditions as a result of a lack of control.