What is Silicosis?


Silicosis is a dust-disease of the lungs caused by inhaling silica which comes from sand, rock or quartz, like the fine quartz dust one breathes in on South African gold mines.


If too much dust is inhaled, the miner will probably develop silicosis.


Silicosis is scarring of the spongy parts of the lungs. Tiny scars form around the millions of small air sacs in the lungs and these eventually over 10 or more years cause the miner to have shortness of breath.


Silicosis is diagnosed in ex-miners using chest x-rays. Doctors also need to examine the ex-miner and do lung function tests to see how bad the silicosis is.
A miner with Silicosis can also get TB more easily


Silicosis is a progressive disease, and the scarring in the lungs can worsen over time even if the miner is no longer working in dusty conditions. This means that it can develop many years after working on the mines. As the scarring worsens, the scars inside the lungs grow together and get bigger and bigger. If the scars grow to 1cm or more in size, its called PMF, which is a definite worsening of silicosis.


There is no specific treatment for silicosis. People with silicosis should be extra careful not to breathe in dust, and also ensure that any cough or other chest symptoms they develop gets treated early, especially because it might be TB which is worse in people with silicosis.

Current Developments

The Trustees of  Q(h)ubeka Trust wish to utilize Trust data to enable research that will contribute to scientific advancement, and the sharing of crucial knowledge of the challenges and lessons learnt in implementing the claims process, including the social and gender components. The Trust’s Research Policy Statement which sets out the principles for research and access to data, can be found on this link.  Parties interested in research should write to the Trust Manager on for more information.