John Libbey Eurotext

Environnement, Risques & Santé


Risks linked to crystalline silica: Established or still unknown? Uncertainties and the search for proof of occupational and environmental diseases Volume 12, issue 4, Juillet-Août 2013

Centre d’études européennes de Sciences Po 27 rue saint-Guillaume 75 337 Paris cedex 07 France, Centre d’études de l’emploi 29, promenade Michel Simon 93 166 Noisy-le-Grand cedex France, Ined 133 boulevard Davout 75 020 Paris France, Centre hospitalier Saint Joseph Saint Luc 20 quai Claude Bernard 69 007 Lyon France

Since the mid-20th century, the health risks attributed to crystalline silica have mainly been associated with silicosis, an occupational disease. Nonetheless, medical and epidemiological research is currently raising new questions about the potential role of this mineral and other inorganic particles in triggering other diseases that affect tens of thousands of people in France: systemic inflammatory diseases (such as sarcoidosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, systemic sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis) and other pathologies (including but not limited to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] and chronic kidney disease). While the nosological and etiological debate on the risks of silica has been relaunched, the tools and statistical surveys used by public health officials continue to struggle to measure the prevalence of the already-acknowledged occupational risks, quantify their consequences and explore new epidemiological hypotheses. The risks associated with this ubiquitous mineral remain underestimated and underevaluated. They require new investigative instruments, some of which can be found in the SILICOSIS project.