Denim Sandblasters At High Risk of Pulmonary Silicosis Interview with:
Metin Akgun, MD, FCCP

Department of Pulmonary Medicine
Atatürk University, Faculty of Medicine
Erzurum, Turkey

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Akgun: The first cases of silicosis due to denim sandblasting were reported in 2005. In 2007, we evaluated 145 former male denim sandblasters who had an exposure history to at least 1 month with a latency period at least ten months; 77 (53%) were diagnosed as silicosis according to the profusion category of opacities of 1/0 or greater. In this study, we reported 4-year follow-up results of this cohort. Out of 83 sandblasters who were evaluated in this follow-up study, nine died and of the remaining 74, 96% had radiographic evidence of silicosis based on the same criteria and 66% had pulmonary function loss, which was defined as at least 12% or more decrease on FVC, predicted.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Akgun: Our findings indicate that denim sandblasting is one of the most dangerous causes of silicosis and that most of the former workers develops silicosis sooner or later. Clinicians should be aware of silicosis due to denim sandblasting and evaluate occupational history of their patients carefully. The patients with silicosis should be informed of potential danger of further exposures to silica and possible complication of silicosis such as respiratory insufficiency, tuberculosis or pneumothorax. Also, the patients with severe disease should be referred to transplant centers for lung transplantation that is the sole therapeutic option.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Akgun: We need to have a true picture of the problem both nationally and globally, such as how “many workers are exposed to silica?” and “how many of them were developed silicosis?” Although, currently, there is no proven therapeutic option for the disease, we need to intervene to be able to alter natural history of the disease and thus to prevent the progression of the disease and deaths.


Silicosis Appears Inevitable Among Former Denim Sandblasters A 4-Year Follow-up Study
Akgun M, Araz O, Ucar E, et al.

Chest 2015;148(3):647-654.


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