The State Government has formed a district-level committee comprising health and industry officials in Coimbatore on Wednesday to exclusively tackle silicosis, a disease that causes irreversible lung damage and found mostly among mining and quarry workers.
As no data exists on the prevalence rate of this non-communicable disease, a survey will be launched in all the 12 blocks of the district, Deputy Director of Public Health R. Damodaran told The Hindu.
The disease is caused by prolonged ingestion of crystalline silica particles. Patients with silicosis were also particularly susceptible to tuberculosis (TB) infection.
Officials working with the industries would furnish to the Health Department a list of ‘at-risk’ workers such as those in quarries, mines, foundries, highways, construction, rock drilling and glass factories.
Medical examination would be performed on these workers every six months and those found to have the disease would be advised to shift to other professions. If they were unable to find another job on their own, they could approach the district administration. This committee, which would be chaired by the District Collector, would meet every three months to review the action taken on preventing this disease.
People working in these industries would also be advised to pour water on the surface to prevent the dust from becoming airborne.
Emphasis would also be placed on proper ventilation and the use of blast cleaning machines or cabinets to control dusts.
The ultimate objective, Dr. Damodaran said, was to prevent mortality among those with the disease and prevent it from spreading.
Besides Deputy Director of Health Services, the committee comprises Deputy Directors of Mines and Tuberculosis, Joint Director of Medical Services, General Manager of District Industries Centre (DIC), Assistant Director of Panchayats and Town Planning, the Labour Inspector and the Inspector of Factories.