ELIPSSilice will measure the sanitary impact of exposure to inorganic particles, notably crystalline silica dust, usually measured by the prevalence of silicosis, a lung disease affecting miners and workers in other sectors. Following a long, complex history of negotiation and improvements in the medical means of detection, silicosis was recognised as an occupational disease. Yet recent medical studies suggest that exposure to silica is more widespread than previously thought, including non-professional exposure and contamination through non-aerial means. They suggest a causal link between exposure and a range of diseases such as sarcoidosis, systematic lupus eyrthematosus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Existing historical research on the recognition and medical definition of occupational diseases supports this hypothesis, demonstrating that for economic reasons the medical observations that laid the basis for contemporary knowledge of fine particle exposure concentrated almost entirely on miners.
These issues are the basis for Silicosis, a Centre for European Studies project run by a multidisciplinary team (in history, medicine, sociology, epidemiology, statistics) co-ordinated by Paul-André Rosental and funded by the European Research Council (2012-17). Current statistics and public health monitoring instruments are unsatisfactory. Thus Silicosis is embarking on a ground-breaking investigation with a questionnaire that will unite information on pathologies with suspected links to inorganic particles with health data of individuals and information on exposure over their lifetime.
ELIPSSilice offers Silicosis the opportunity to enlarge its field of inquiry to a representative sample of the population aged 18-75. It will bring decisive gains in statistical precision and allow the study of correlations that no other statistical source can establish between health, work and the environment, while reinforcing the multidimensional character of Silicosis.