India Develops Silicosis Screening Test

Silica is a naturally occurring substance found in various types of rocks, clay, and sand. Unfortunately, when this silica dust is inhaled, especially over long periods of time, it can cause intense health issues such as silicosis and silico-tuberculosis. These progressive and incurable lung diseases harm thousands or millions of people each year.

According to The Indian Express, a joint project from the National Institute of Virology, National Institute for Occupational Health, and Indian Council for Medical Research developed a silicosis screening test. While this test cannot treat or cure silicosis, it can provide better disease management. Often, silicosis is not diagnosed until later stages. Through early identification, the team believes that patients can learn when they have this disease earlier and take care to keep it from progressing, such as stopping smoking or changing work environments.

This lung disease is not just found in India, but all around the world. It is especially prevalent in construction workers, glassmakers, or mining professions. Currently, the team provided its screening test to two separate companies — Aviva Sichem Biotech and Acrannolife Genomics — which will work to manufacture and distribute the screening tests at some point in 2022.


Silicosis is an interstitial lung disease (ILD) caused by the repeated inhalation of silica particles. Once these particles are inhaled, they can cause lung scarring, inflammation, and ultimately, pulmonary fibrosis (PF). An estimated 12.5 million Indian citizens, and 2.3 million American citizens, are affected. Typically, silicosis occurs after multiple years of silica dust exposure. However, there are multiple forms of silicosis. In the chronic form, or the most common form, the disease appears after 20+ years of silica exposure. Next, the accelerated form occurs after 5-15 years. Finally, the acute form results from short-term exposure to extremely high silica particles.

Although there is no cure for silicosis, treatments are available to reduce symptom severity and prevent disease progression. These treatments include nutrition help, pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy, or even lung transplants. For this reason, it is important to seek treatment as soon as symptoms develop. Symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath and/or difficulty breathing
  • A cough which may or may not produce mucus
  • Fever and night sweats
  • Fatigue and general malaise
  • Swollen legs
  • Discoloration of the lips
  • Unintended weight loss

Learn more about silicosis.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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