Definition - What does Autoimmune Disease mean?
Autoimmune diseases include diseases that cause the immune system to attack healthy tissues. The immune system wrongly identifies healthy tissues as being invasive, and begins producing antibodies that attack and destroy the tissues. It may also result in abnormal organ growth and affect the way that organs function. In the context of worker safety, autoimmune disorders are of particular concern in oil and gas extraction by means of fracking. The process employs large volumes of silica, and if this is inhaled, autoimmune disorders may result.
Safeopedia explains Autoimmune Disease
NIOSH studies on chemical exposure have identified silica inhalation as a significant hazard to oil and gas workers employed in fracking operations. The sand moving process allows for several situations in which dust is ejected. Silica exposure may cause a number of disorders, and the assessment of the risks of silica exposure is essential in order to determine the correct strategies to protect workers on site. The NIOSH study produced disturbing figures that indicate a high level of over-exposure to silica dust within the industry.