Q. Can a single exposure to silica dust cause silicosis?

Answered by
Dr. Chandra Shekhar
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Dec 05, 2022

Hello doctor,

I have a question about silica dust exposure. I have been working on a fireplace, and the surrounding had a lot of dried grout. I was sanding the grout with a metal brush. I used an N95 dust mask for protection. However, I have not realized that the grout contained silica which is very harmful to the lungs. I am worried if N95 rendered enough protection. There was a lot of dust during the sanding around me and in my hair and clothes. I took a shower later.

Also, please tell me if my family members are at risk if they were in and out of that without any masks. I am afraid that my infant was also exposed. He was there for about two hours after I was done sanding, but before the cleanup, he was about 10 feet away from the fireplace. But there was enough silica dust in the air to cause him damage. Should I be concerned about silicosis?



Welcome to

I read your query and can understand your concern.

Only with long exposure, maybe about ten years, does the risk of silicosis increase. Even with a mask, there is exposure. Advise family members to maintain a distance of 500 meters. Since it is your occupation, periodically check your respiratory health and do spirometry and high-resolution computed tomography thorax.

I hope this helps.

Hi doctor,

The family members were about three to five meters away. Is this considered high exposure?

I have read that it usually takes years of exposure to cause silicosis. Is one exposure like this enough to cause silicosis?



Welcome back to

I read your query and can understand your concern.

Yes, three to five meters distance is a high-risk zone, and you and your family using N95 is a good thing. It delays the disease development process. Periodical checks are recommended.

Silicosis usually takes ten years to develop, and also when it develops, it presents as end-stage lung disease.

Sanding may cause silicosis, but mainly stone cutters, mines workers and brick makers are at higher risk of silicosis.

I hope this information is helpful.

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