Silicosis risk to be discussed at national conference

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New Delhi: With close to three million workers in India at high risk of silica exposure, of which 1.7 million do mining-related activities, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) will organise a day-long conference Friday to discuss and review steps taken by the government to prevent, detect and eliminate Silicosis, a lung disorder.

The conference, at the India International Centre, will be attended by health experts, representatives of the central and state government, state human rights commission, legal experts and NGOs dealing with the problem.

"The aim of the national conference is to discuss the status of action taken by the union Ministry of Labour and Employment and states on the earlier recommendations made by the NHRC in the prevention, detection and eventual elimination of silicosis," a statement issued by the commission said.

Silicosis is a lung disorder caused by inhalation, retention and pulmonary reaction to silica. It is caused as a result of exposure during mining, stone crushing and quarrying activities.

"Once a worker or any other person is afflicted by silicosis it becomes a constitutional obligation on part of the state to take appropriate short-term and long-term measures from the point of view of providing medical facilities and rehabilitation of the victims," the statement added.

According to a 1999 report of the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), about 3 million workers in India are at a high risk of silica exposure. Most of these workers are employed in mining-related activities, glass and mica-related work and metal industry.

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