Silicosis: Data, Statistics, and Publications


1979 - 2013

  • 561 cases of silicosis were confirmed between 1979 and 2013, an average of 18 new cases a year.
  • Although the majority of silicosis cases were men, 1 county in NJ had the highest proportion of female to male deaths due to silicosis in a single US county between 1995-2004.
  • Silicosis cases of Black race were overrepresented in NJ's historic foundries and steel works.
  • Over the past 3 decades, the number of cases identified in manufacturing, mining and transportation declined while those in the construction and services sectors increased.
  • Cases exposed to silica dust while working in the construction industry quadrupled after 1992.
  • Leading worksites associated with multiple cases of silicosis were
    • China plumbing and bathroom fixtures manufacturing
    • Foundries and steel works
    • Sand mines
    • China plate and dish manufacturers
  • 41% of NJ silicosis cases were exposed while working as machine operators or laborers.
  • Silicosis was identified an average of 8 years earlier in sandblasters than in workers who had never sandblasted.
  • Silicosis cases tend to be diagnosed late in life, making timely worksite interventions challenging.
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Silicosis, an occupational lung disease, has been a significant public health concern in New Jersey (NJ) due to the use of silica in many industry processes, including: foundries, potteries, mines and, increasingly construction work. In response to this concern, the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) developed a silicosis surveillance system in 1979. This work was funded for many years by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

There is generally a 20-year lag time between exposure to silica dust and development of chronic silicosis. This is a challenge to timely disease prevention. Shifting the focus of NJDOH outreach to real-time hazard prevention efforts has helped NJ industries at risk to reduce and eliminate exposure to silica dust, the primary means to reduce and eliminate cases of silicosis.

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Number of Cases
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Demographic Characteristics of NJ Silicosis Cases
  1. Age [pdf 66k]
  2. Gender:
    1. Male vs. Female [pdf 46k]
    2. Female Cases [pdf 205k]
  3. Race [pdf 66k]
  4. Ethnicity [pdf 119k]
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Location of Cases and Employers
  1. By State [pdf 212k]
  2. Unique Employers by County [pdf 174k]
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Industries Where Silicosis Cases Were Exposed
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Occupations of Silicosis Cases
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Silicosis Publications in the Scientific Literature

Silicosis Publications in the Scientific Literature (co-authored by staff of the NJDOH Occupational Health Surveillance Unit)

  1. Friedman GK, Harrison MD, Bojes H, Worthington K, Filios M.  Notes from the Field: Silicosis in a Countertop Fabricator – Texas, 2014.  MMWR 2015;64/No.5:129-130.

  2. Meeker J, Cooper M, Lefkowitz D, Susi P. Engineering Control Technologies to Reduce Occupational Silica Exposures in Masonry Cutting and Tuckpointing. Public Health Reports, 2009 Supplement 1, v 124 (1-20).

  3. Valiante DJ, Schill D, Rosenman KD, Socie E. Highway repair: A new silicosis threat. Am J Public Health 2004;94:876-880.

  4. Rosenman KD, Petcher E, Schill DP, Valiante DJ, Bresnitz EA, Cummings KR, Socie E, Filios MS. Silicosis in dental laboratory technicians – Five States, 1994-2000. MMWR 2004;53/No-9:195-197.

  5. Echt A, Sieber K, Jones E, Schill D, Lefkowitz D, Sugar J, and Hoffner K. Control of respirable dust and crystalline silica from breaking concrete with a jackhammer. Appl Occup Environ Hyg 18:491-495, 2003.

  6. Goodwin SS, Stanbury MJ, Wang ML, Silbergeld E, Parker JE. Previously undetected pneumoconiosis in New Jersey decedents. Am J of Indust Med 2003;44:304-311.

  7. Maxfield R, Alo C, Reilly MJ, Rosenman K, Kalinowski D, Stanbury M, Valiante D. Surveillance for silicosis, 1993-Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin. MMWR 1997; 46/No-1:13-27.

  8. Hall N, Rosenman KD. Occupational risk factors for developing tuberculosis. Am J Ind Med 1996; 30:148-154.

  9. Rosenman KD, Stanbury MJ, Reilly MJ. Mortality among persons with silicosis reported to two State based disease surveillance systems. Scan J Work Environ Health 1995; 21 suppl 2:73-6.

  10. Stanbury M, Joyce P, Kipen H. Silicosis and workers' compensation in New Jersey. J Occup Environ Med 1995; 37:1342-1347.

  11. Cooper TC, Gressel MG, Froehlich PA, Caplan PE, Mickelsen RL, Valiante D, Bost P. Successful reduction of silica exposures at a sanitary ware pottery. Am Ind Hyg Assoc. J 1993; 54:600-606.

  12. Reilly MJ, Rosenman KD, Watt F, Stanbury M, Valiante DJ, Helmus LE, Migliozzi NA, Anderson H, Hanrahan L, Jajosky RA, Musgrave KJ, Castellan R, Ordin D. Silicosis surveillance - Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Wisconsin. MMWR 1993;42/No. SS-5:23-28.

  13. Valiante D, Bost P, Stanbury M, Szenics J, NIOSH. Silicosis among pottery workers - New Jersey. MMWR 1992;42:405-411.

  14. Valiante DJ, Richards T, Kinsley KB. Silicosis surveillance in New Jersey: Targeting workplaces using occupational disease and exposure surveillance data. Am J Ind Med 1992; 21:517-526

  15. Brien D, Froehlich PA, Gressel MG, Hall RM, Clark NJ, Bost P, Fischbach T. Silica exposure in hand grinding steel castings. Am Ind Hyg Assoc. J 1992; 53:42-48.

  16. Windau J, Anderson H, Rosenman KD, Rudolph L, Stanbury MJ, Stark A. The identification of occupational lung disease from hospital discharge data. J Occup Med 1991; 33:1060-1066.

  17. Rosenman KD, Trimbath L, Stanbury MJ. Surveillance of occupational lung disease: Comparison of hospital discharge data to physician reporting. Am J Public Health 1990; 80:1257-1258.

  18. Valiante D, Rosenman KD. Does silicosis still occur? JAMA 1989; 21: 3003-3007.

  19. Stanbury MJ, Rosenman KD. Chemical and dust-related diseases. New Jersey Medicine 1988; 85:929-936.

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Last Reviewed: 2/18/2020