Avrupa Solunum Derneği (ERS), gönderdiğimiz (Atatürk Üniversitesi ve Yedikule’nin) bildirileri kabul etmekle kalmamış, sorunu tüm dünyaya medya aracılığıyla duyurmak için bir basın bildirisi hazırlamıştı. Başlık, “İlk Kez Kot Kumlamayanlarda Silikozis Belirlendi” şeklindeydi. Basın bildirisi kongre sırasında tam olarak 18 Eylül 2015 günü saat 16:00’da yapılacak basın toplantısında medyaya iletilecekti. Biz de toplantıya katılacaktık. O tarihe kadar basına herhangi bir demeç vermememiz istenmişti. Biz de heyecanla kongreyi ve yapılacak basın toplantısını beklemeye başlamıştık.
Basın Bildirisinin Orijinali:
The fashion for artificially broken in jeans is taking its toll on health. Jet sandblasting, used by manufacturers to distress the fabric in places, also appears to cause respiratory distress in workers. Repeated inhalation of dust with a high silica content is known to be a risk factor for silicosis, an irreversible condition that has recently been diagnosed among denim sandblasters in Turkey. Researchers are raising the alarm in Copenhagen, calling for urgent measures in the textile industry to protect workers.
The danger of silicosis has been known for many years, especially for miners, metal industry sandblasters and, more recently, building facade sandblasters. Yet no reports had been published on silicosis caused by denim sandblasting.
So the results presented in Copenhagen to the 15th Congress of the European Respiratory Society (ERS) by the two Turkish teams which diagnosed the first cases, sound a warning note.
For example, the team led by Metin Akgün, of Ataturk University in Erzurum, identified the condition in two young non-smoking male denim sandblasters aged 18 and 19. The first sought medical help after suffering from dry cough, malaise and weight loss for three months, while the second had been experiencing dyspnea for four years.
They had been aged only 13 and 14 respectively when they started in the job, working eleven-hour days in the same small, enclosed, poorly ventilated workshop with only simple facial masks to protect them.
One month after diagnosis, established using high-resolution tomography that revealed the micronodules typical of the disease, the younger patient died. The other patient has been receiving treatment, but it has not been possible to improve his lung function.
The denim sandblasters’ silicosis seems to be a particularly acute form of the disease, which develops in less than five years, rather than the ten to thirty-year period typical of silicosis in miners.
“This rapid progression is the consequence of intensive exposure to large amounts of dust with a high silica content”, Akgün told the Congress.
A similarly rapid progression was to be seen in a case presented to the Congress by another Turkish team, headed by Nur Dilek Bakan, of the Yedikule Teaching Hospital for Chest Disease and Thoracic Surgery in Istanbul. The thirty-year-old male subject had in fact been working for only two years when his lung function began to decline abruptly.
The start of a new silicosis epidemic in the textile sector?
“Though the cases reported to the Congress are relatively isolated, the strong fashion-led demand for distressed jeans could lead to a large number of new cases of silicosis”, Bakan warns. “Especially for workers in uncontrolled small-scale enterprises.”
His compatriot, Metin Akgün, expands on this: “There are huge numbers of tiny enterprises manufacturing for large textile companies that market broken in denim”. Their workers are often young and work in uncontrolled conditions, without protective equipment.
In a forthcoming article in the Journal of Occupational Health*, Akgün estimates that Istanbul alone has several dozen such small workshops, each employing a score of young workers in similarly poor conditions.
“Since we cannot be sure of the precise scale of the problem, the important thing is to draw the authorities’ attention to the issue”, he emphasises. “In European countries, there have been restrictions on the use of silica in jet sandblasting for the past forty years. Yet, in many developing countries, the practice continues. So proper preventive measures are urgently needed, especially in small enterprises.”
This warning should also help doctors to diagnose the condition more easily in the future. It had proved difficult in these early cases reported to the Congress. Not only because there had never been a diagnosis of silicosis in the region concerned (eastern Turkey), but also because the literature does not mention this type of employment as a possible cause.
Indeed, one of the patients described to the Congress had, before hospitalisation, been treated mistakenly for tuberculosis, without prior bacteriological examination of any kind…
* Akgun M, Gorguner M, Meral M, Turkyilmaz A, Erdogan F, Saglam L, Mirici A. Silicosis due to sandblasting of jeans in Turkey: a report of two concomitant cases. J Occup Health 2005 (Article in Press).