Tradies and home renovators exposed to silica dust are at greater risk of developing lung cancer. The Cancer Council says workers who breathe in the fine particles every day, are particularly vulnerable.

Tom Copley reports.


It’s estimated 600,000 workers are exposed to silica dust annually.

It’s found in materials such as sand, bricks, rocks, concrete and plastics.

The Cancer Council believes 230 workers are diagnosed with lung cancer every year after exposure to silica dust.

Rebecca Perkins, Cancer Prevention Manager Cancer Council: “When the material is broken up, the silica becomes a dust which is in fact 100 times smaller than a grain of sand. When this dust is inhaled, it can dramatically increase someone’s risk of developing lung cancer.”

The CFMEU says its members are well aware of the risks.

Andrew Ramsay, CFMEU Workplace Health and Safety Officer: “We do our best to try and get members informed and educate them about the dangers of silica dust, silicosis isn’t a very nice disease to get in later life.”

The Cancer Council says while construction and mining workers are at the most risk, Do It Yourself home renovators should also be aware of the dangers of silica dust.

The Union has concerns renovators aren’t aware of the dangers.

Andrew Ramsay, CFMEU Workplace Health and Safety Officer: “The silica side is probably not even touched on and people are exposing themselves and their children while they’re doing these home renovations. It is dangerous stuff, it’s not a very nice thing to have in your lungs.”

Home renovators are encouraged to do their research and wear protective gear.

Rebecca Perkins, Cancer Council: “So it’s really important that those people who are doing home renovations also consider the risks that they’re putting themselves in.”

Andrew Ramsay, CFMEU Workplace Health and Safety Officer: “Proper masks, I know they’re a hassle to wear and they get hot and all the rest of it, but they can save your life.”

Tom Copley, QUT News.