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NHRC to organise conference on silicosis for endemic states
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is organizing a day-long Conference on silicosis for endemic states at Vigyan Bhawan Annexe, New Delhi tomorrow on the 22nd July, 2016. Silicosis is a fibrotic lung disorder caused by inhalation, retention and pulmonary reaction to crystalline silica.

The most common form of silica is quartz. Exceptionally high exposure to silica can cause silicosis within a month with a significant impairment of lungs within few years. The diagnosis of silicosis is not easy and it is likely to be confused with tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is curable but silicosis is not, as of now.

Therefore, the focus is on implementing preventive measures to protect people who could be prone to this disease. The silica dust gets generated in the activities relating to construction, mining, sand blasting, stone crushing and quarrying, foundries, gem cutting and polishing glass manufacturing, slate, pencil and ceramic industries.

Those working and living in close proximity to these industries are more prone to get affected with silicosis. The disease was first brought on record in the year 2009-10 when an NHRC team detected 74 cases of silicosis including 22 deaths. The Government of Rajasthan made ex gratia payment of Rs.3 lakhs each to the dependents of the deceased from Chief Minister Relief Fund.

The aim of this conference is to discuss the status of action taken by the endemic states viz. Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, West Bengal on the earlier recommendations made by the NHRC in the prevention, detection and eventual elimination of silicosis and to share their best practices. The participants will include concerned officials/representatives of these states.

The Rajasthan State Human Rights Commission will also make a presentation on the steps taken by it regarding silicosis.

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