Since the early 20th-century the health risks associated with silicosis have been well documented. A new report by the Insurance Information Institute entitled "Silica Liability" finds that while the number of deaths associated with silicosis continues to decline, the number of silica claims being filed is increasing sharply. Workers in many occupations and industries are potentially exposed. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Department of Labor, currently more than 1 million U.S. workers are exposed to crystalline silica and each year more than 250 of them die with silicosis. Any dusty environment where crystalline silica is present can potentially increase the likelihood of developing silicosis. Industries at greatest risk of exposure include: construction; mining; foundry work; stone cutting and glass manufacturing. As Congress continues to debate a national solution to the asbestos litigation crisis, new personal injury claims are being filed on behalf of individuals suffering from occupational lung disease caused by exposure to silica. The sharp increase in silica claims is leading many to question whether silica is the next asbestos.
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