View of the Maules Creek coal mine molehill seen from a distance. All that silica.

And according to last nights 7.30 Report, (“Coal miner’s death after silicosis diagnosis a warning on dangerous dust levels“) silica dust is 20 times more toxic than coal dust. This can be due to the size and shape of the particles.

Its one of the oldest industrial diseases in the world and is present where crystalline mineral dust is created when materials such as quartz, sand, stone, soil, granite, brick, cement, grout, mortar are blasted, cut or excavated.

There is a handy piece in The Conversation – “Explainer: what is silicosis and why is this old lung disease making a comeback?

It’s not just miners who get affected by silica and victims who are diagnosed with silicosis can lose an average 11.6 years of life.