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2017, 296 pages

Despite the common perception that “black lung” has been relegated to the dustbin of history,
silicosis remains a crucial public health problem that threatens millions of people around the
world. This painful and incurable chronic disease, still present in old industrial regions, is now
expanding rapidly in emerging economies around the globe. Most industrial sectors—including
the metallurgical, glassworking, foundry, stonecutting, building, and tunneling industries—expose
their workers to lethal crystalline silica dust. Dental prosthodontists are also at risk, as are
sandblasters, pencil factory workers in developing nations, and anyone who handles concentrated
sand squirt to clean oil tanks, build ships, or fade blue jeans.
In Silicosis, eleven experts argue that silicosis is more than one of the most pressing global health
concerns today—it is an epidemic in the making. Essays explain how the understanding of the
disease has been shaken by new medical findings and technologies, developments in
industrializing countries, and the spread of the disease to a wide range of professions beyond coal
mining. Examining the global reactions to silicosis, the authors trace the history of the disease and
show how this occupational health hazard first came to be recognized as well as the steps that were
necessary to deal with it at that time.
Ultimately, by bringing together historians and physicians from around the world, Silicosis
pioneers a new collective method of writing the global history of disease. Aimed at legal and
public health scholars, physicians, political economists, social scientists, historians, and all readers
concerned by labor and civil society movements in the contemporary world, this book contains
lessons that will be applicable not only to people working on combating silicosis but also to people
examining other occupational diseases now and in the future.

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