Crystalline silica was classified as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research in Cancer in 1997.
A large cohort of former and current gold miners in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, who were exposed to measured quantities of silica has been developed using miners' survey records from the early 60s and 70s. These Kalgoorlie goldminers are being followed up for silicosis, lung cancer, other cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and auto-immune disease, including end-stage renal disease and systemic sclerosis.
This project has been funded by the Minerals and Energy Research Institute of Western Australia (now known as Worksafe) and will enable the continued examination of the dose-response relationships between a large range of levels of exposure to crystalline silica, and their health effects.
The results of this study have contributed to the National Review of the Crystalline Silica Exposure Standard (de Klerk et al, 2000) in Australia, commissioned by the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission and two major reviews of the health effects of crystalline silica by IARC and the Silica Coalition (a collaboration of Australian, Canadian and US scientists).
De Klerk NH, Ambrosini GL, Musk AW. 'Review of the Crystalline Silica Exposure Standard for the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission of Australia (Draft)'. University of Western Australia, Dept of Public Health, August 2000. pp 1-115.
International Agency for Research on Cancer. 'Silica - IARC Monographs Program on the Evaluation of the Carcinogenic Risk of Chemicals to Humans, Vol 68. Lyon: IARC, 1997. pp 41 - 242.