PANAJI: Lung diseases caused in workers employed in iron ore mines and those living near the mines are reversible and not fatal in nature, doctors said, speaking ahead of the opening of the 64th national conference of Indian association of occupational health.

The doctors said that different studies covering mine workers, contract labour employed in mines as well as those living in close vicinity of mines have shown that iron ore mining does not cause lung diseases that can eventually lead to the death of the person like in case of asbestos and silica mines.

“When you breathe in a substance that you are not supposed to, it will obviously affect you. But exposure to an iron ore mine will not cause a lung disorder that will eventually lead to death. It will not cause irreversible damage. It does not cause longstanding health hazards like in case of asbestos,” Dr Sunil Kakodkar of Indian association of occupational health said.

Dr Navnath Bhatikar, Goa branch head of the association, admitted that crushers, which contain silica do cause such irreversible damage, but probably don’t get coverage of occupational health safety surveys because they are very small in size.

The association’s conference will be held from February 11 to 14 in International Centre Goa, Dona Paula and Cidade de Goa where around 600 delegates, including 80 postgraduate students of medicine, are expected to participate. Sixty papers will be presented on occupational hazards by doctors working in India and abroad covering areas of work ranging from corporate offices to fishermen in India and those working in industries involving the use of nano technology.

The doctors said that occupational hazards are considered the tenth largest cause of death by WHO and backpain is the most reported occupational hazard followed by noise pollution.

Dr Chaitanya Gulvady, president of Indian association of occupational health, said that it is proven by return on investment studies that industries benefit to the tune of upto 4 for every 1 invested in the employees to reduce effects of occupational hazards. Some measures involve stress management programmes, promoting exercise and nutritional diet among employees, he said.