Occupational exposure to silica dust in Slovenia is grossly underestimated

  • Andrea Margan Ljubljana University Medical Centre, Institute of Occupational, Traffic, and Sports Medicine, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Dominika Verlak Ptuj Medical Centre, Department of Occupational, Traffic, and Sports Medicine, Ptuj, Slovenia
  • Gregor Roj Roj Private Medical Centre, Department of Occupational, Traffic, and Sports Medicine, Slovenska Bistrica, Slovenia
  • Metoda Dodič Fikfak UKC Ljubljana
Keywords: construction industry, glass industry, respirable dust, silicon dioxide, quartz


As a by-product or material used in various industries crystalline silica contaminates the air many occupational settings. If its fine particles are inhaled, they are deposited in the lungs and may cause the development of silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer. The goal of this study was to estimate occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) in Slovenia and the associated health risks. To do that, we ran two cross-sectional studies, one to determine the number of workers at risk of occupational exposure to RCS in Slovene industries and the other to determine and classify changes in the lung radiographs of glass factory workers exposed to RCS, as a means to infer health risks for other RCS exposed workers in Slovenia. However, the first study shows that official public data on occupational exposure to silica in Slovenia are unreliable and incomplete and that company representatives strongly underestimate occupational exposure to silica. Measurements of total and silica dust are made by 8.3 % and 1.8 % of companies working with silica, respectively. The second study shows that about a third of the exposed workers had lung changes associated with silicosis. We have failed to achieve the goal of our study, as the obtained data are grossly underestimated and unreliable, but it has opened our eyes as to what needs to be improved. All companies need to systematically be informed about occupational health risks, field inspections need to be consistent, regular, and intensified, and health surveillance of all exposed workers implemented regularly.

How to Cite
Margan A, Verlak D, Roj G, Dodič Fikfak M. Occupational exposure to silica dust in Slovenia is grossly underestimated. Arh Hig Rada Toksikol [Internet]. 2022Dec.7 [cited 2024Jul.14];73(4). Available from: https://arhiv.imi.hr/index.php/arhiv/article/view/1518
Original article