“Act now to avoid the next asbestos” as silicosis cases rise in the UK

The UK’s favourite DIY and home improvement expert, Tommy Walsh, is calling for more to be done to protect workers from the dangers of silica dust.

Tommy believes that the issue of air quality on building sites should be a national concern, and that silica dust should be viewed the same way as asbestos.

While he became aware of the dangers of silica dust as an issue around five years ago, in relation to the disposal of plasterboard, Tommy says that he has not heard the issue discussed on building sites. This is in spite of the fact that 81% of those regularly exposed to silica dust are construction workers.

Silicosis: A national concern

Tommy shared that the majority of health and safety concerns on smaller building sites are focused around obvious, external risks, such as falling from a ladder, electricity and water. As a result, he believes that more needs to be done to raise awareness of “invisible” risks, such as occupational silicosis, which is the most common chronic lung disease in the world.

He continued, “over half of the country’s construction is done by small builders and ‘one-man-band’ outfits. Air quality has always been a secondary concern to them, as they don’t know enough about it. Everyone would rather work safe than not safe, but they can’t do that if they don’t have the awareness. Health and safety can often be ignored due to cost-saving, time-saving, or ignorance, but if we can normalise the importance of air quality it will make it harder to ignore.”

Recent data has shown that respirable crystalline silica (RCS) is the biggest risk to construction workers after asbestos, with cases and exposure rising year on year. There are 12,000 deaths a year in the UK from inhalation of dust including silica in the workplace, opposed to just 142 recorded due to workplace accidents between 2020/2021. What’s more, there are an estimated 50,000 workers worldwide exposed to silica dust.

The scale of the issue is not matched by the awareness and action needed to prevent it.

Silicosis, as well as being the world’s most common occupational lung disease, can increase a person’s risk of tuberculosis, kidney disease, arthritis, and lung cancer. The consequences of occupational silicosis have been estimated to cost employers in the UK construction industry over £1 million per year.

In order to raise awareness and protect construction workers from this entirely preventable disease, Trolex have launched the Air XS Silica Monitor, the world’s first real-time silica monitor, which can provide real-time data of dangerous silica dust particles workers are exposed to across any given day.

Requiring no complicated set-up and only five minutes of maintenance a month, the Air XS Silica Monitor is easy-to-use and provides accurate, real-time RCS monitoring with minimal training, letting workers know if the amount of RCS content in their workspace is increasing as they work and when it has risen to dangerous levels.

Get in touch today using the contact form below to speak to one of our experts about how the Trolex Air XS Silica Monitor can help protect workers from occupational silicosis.

    Staggering lung disease statistics prompt urgent £5 million investment

    New studies from charity ‘Asthma and Lung UK’ (ALUK) found that lung disease deaths in the UK are the highest in Western Europe.

    The staggering statistics have prompted an expanded approach towards research and development of lung diseases from ALUK.


    Serious Statistics

    ALUK’s studies show that cases of lung disease related deaths in the UK have been on the rise for the past 20 years.

    It is reported that 500,000 people in the UK died from deaths relating to lung diseases over a seven-year period.

    In 2018 alone, 84,721 respiratory deaths were recorded in the UK.

    The charity has described the state of lung health in the UK as ‘shameful’, stating the need for improved research and development solutions to the problem.

    More than just numbers

    After its relaunch in February, ALUK established a new five-year strategy upon the results of the study.

    Lung diseases are currently the third most common cause of death in the UK and it’s currently costing the NHS £9 billion every year.

    Despite this, lung-related health care is receiving less than 2% of public funding.

    Dispelling the misconceptions

    It is evident that the seriousness of lung problems in relation to other diseases is not taken as seriously, despite what we are seeing from the data.

    A predominant factor in the poor state of the nation’s lung health is that people believe lung conditions aren’t life-threatening. This is a major misconception.

    Through spreading awareness of how ‘shameful’ lung health is in the UK, this misconception can be dispelled.

    ALUK aim to reduce lung disease deaths by 20% by 2027. When making everyone aware of these gruesome statistics, this can become a possibility.

    The end goal is to provide support for everyone effected by all forms of lung disease.

    Research and innovation as a solution

    ALUK’s solution to achieving this goal is through research and innovation.

    Their aim is to expand their research and innovation programme so that £5 million is being invested into relevant research each year.

    With the aim to develop at least three new self-management tools” for 2 million people suffering with lung diseases, ALUK want to make training programmes and essential advice easily accessible to those who need it.

    “By 2027, we will give 80% of people with lung conditions the opportunity to access our network of Breathe Easy support groups” states the ALUK Strategy to 2027.

    With this, the strain on public healthcare is minimised and individuals are able to monitor their personal health through digitalised platforms and shared networks.

    Looking to the future…

    The statistics right now make for harrowing reading and harsh truths.

    However, for ALUK, research and innovation is the solution for the future. By identifying the problem and acknowledging its severity and scale, goals can be achieved.

    Through effective research and innovation lung disease deaths can become a thing of the past, not just in the UK, but worldwide.

    International Women’s Day: Not always a man’s job!

    International Women’s Day (IWD) was on 8th March 2022, which coincided with National Women in Construction Week (WICW) 7th-13th March.

    As a technology company that develops and manufactures engineered solutions for the construction, mining, and tunnelling industry. Trolex could be seen to be a ‘traditionally male’ company.

    However, whilst the of numbers of employees and the ratio of men to women stands currently at about 5:1, in terms of culture, Trolex prides itself on mutual respect and understanding for all our colleagues, regardless of our differences.

    We are the people of Trolex. Not the men, not the women, but the people.

    Inclusion culture

    Unfortunately, the Trolex model of an inclusion culture, isn’t practiced in every other ‘traditionally male’ company, which is why IWD and WICW campaigns globally to bring awareness to all women who are doing a great job, despite what that industry may be.

    No one can deny that stereotypes are still affecting society in the UK and in other western countries.

    A survey by CPB London ahead of IWD in 2022, found that,

    “39% of the 5- to 11-year-olds polled think that women should stay home and 38% agreed that men should go to work”.

    Breaking the bias

    The CPB began their “Imagine” nationwide campaign on IWD and this year’s theme is #BreakTheBias.

    This campaign has gained global appeal and invites people to imagine a person in a certain role, for example, ‘a doctor’ ‘a nurse’ ‘a plumber’ or ‘a CEO’, and then invites you to ask, is this a man or a woman?

    It creates a powerful message, especially when, in the CPB survey of 1000 children;

    60% thought that being a plumber or an electrician was a man’s job and almost half (46%) said that men always make better engineers.”

    A sobering thought that children still have this impression of certain roles in 2022.

    Still moving forward?

    The same survey found that most children agreed that you should grow up to be whatever you want to be (94%), while 82% believed that boys and girls can be just as good at the same things.

    It does seem to be going in the right direction, but society is clearly not there yet on the road to complete equality.


    Our Tribute to Heather on Lung Leavin’ Day 2 February

    At the age of just 36, Heather Von St. James did not expect to be diagnosed with Mesothelioma so young. Upon the diagnosis of this cancer, Heather was given just 15 months to live. On February 2nd, 2006, Heather underwent major surgery to have her lung removed, in the hope to save her life. Heather’s sister declared the day “Lung Leavin’ Day”. 16 years later and after successful surgery, Heather is still fighting the cause to raise awareness of the disease.

    Mesothelioma, a form of cancer commonly found in the lungs or abdomen, is caused by exposure to asbestos. Simple exposure to airborne asbestos is that deadly. Whilst the number of new cases per year is approximately 3,000, an even more harrowing stat is that around 20,000,000 people are at risk of developing mesothelioma each year due to exposure to asbestos.

    “When I was a girl, I wore my dad’s work coat all the time. It was covered in asbestos from his construction job” Heather claimed on the Lung Leavin’ Day website. Asbestos is still found in many industrial buildings, homes and schools and is invisible to the naked eye. Heather’s story is, unfortunately, one of many. But Lung Leavin’ Day is about, in Heather’s words “building hope and awareness”.

    Asbestos and Mesothelioma is a growing problem in construction; however, it’s not alone. Almost 70% of cancer diagnosis in relation to construction health is caused by asbestosis – the next highest is exposure to silica. The APPG report released in 2020 in the UK entitled Silica – the next asbestos? explores this idea in more detail, but this is a subject that has been discussed scientifically, a long time before this date – e.g. The Guardian in Australia stating that silica IS the new asbestos.

    It is estimated by the HSE that in 2005, respirable crystalline silica (RCS) was the cause to over 500 deaths in UK construction. Like asbestos, RCS can cause extreme problems within breathing as well as, like in Heather’s case, forms of lung cancer and inevitably silicosis. Whilst some treatment is available for Mesothelioma, similar treatments are not yet available for silicosis.

    As shocking as this is, Heather’s message is one of hope and awareness of this issue, and many Health and Safety associations and companies are working to reduce the risk to employees from the exposure of hazardous substances, and the damage this can cause. Trolex is one such company that is on this mission, by inventing dust monitoring equipment that measures the dangers in real time – this isn’t unique to Trolex. However, specific monitoring of silica in real time IS.

    Launching in May 2022, the Trolex Air XS Silica Monitor is the first real-time RCS monitor of its kind, which allows for dangerous silica dust to be detected quicker than any other method. This ground-breaking technology will eventually save millions of lives.

    Today, on Lung Leavin’ Day, the message is simple.

    Exposure to hazardous substances, in particular dangerous particulates is a serious matter. Silica, like asbestos, kills.

    It’s time to raise awareness of this issue and GET REAL on this matter.

      It’s one thing claiming to design, develop and manufacture the world’s most accurate, easy to maintain, and best value wearable dust monitoring device – which we do.

      But substantiating that claim?

      Backing it up with the facts, with independent verifiable research? Field testing our device and comparing it like-for-like with other similar products to prove our point – is that even possible?

      It certainly is.

      We can prove that the XD One is the world’s leading wearable dust monitoring system.

      Courtesy of The HSE – a completely independent UK Government compliance body and one of the leading organisations of its type in the world – who recently completed a series of dust monitoring tests.

      Their tests compared three XD One units (to capture a reliable spread of results) with three other commercially available personal dust monitors. 

      • The Casella CEL-712 Microdust Pro
      • The ThermoScientific MIE Personal DataRam (pDR) 1500
      • The TSI SidePak AM510

      To measure the mean respirable and inhalable dust concentrations, two gravimetric samplers were also tested against the Trolex XD One – The GK 2.69 cyclone (BGI by Mesa Labs) and the IOM inhalable sampler (SKC Inc.).

      Using Arizona Road Dust, the preferred type of dust for dust monitor trials, testing was undertaken in a 1m x 1m x 3m calm air chamber, at three different dust concentrations – low 2 mg/m3, medium 5 mg/m3, and high 11 mg/m3.

      Fixed concentration tests

      At the medium and highest concentrations, the test lasted for 60 minutes. At the lowest concentration, the test lasted for 120 minutes to make sure enough dust was sampled by the gravimetric samplers to achieve a reliable reading.

      Stepped concentration tests

      Dust concentration was tested in three steps (20 minutes at each stage) from the lowest to the highest. Once at the maximum, the concentration was stepped back down to zero at the same rate.

      Head to Head Headline Test Results

      In a word… impressive

      1. The XD One performs as well as, or better than, all rival products in the accurate monitoring for respirable dust (PM 4.25) test at typical workplace concentrations of 5 mg/m³ and below. With official Workplace Exposure Limits allowing a maximum of 4 mg/m³ exposure at any time, it’s these concentrations that really matter in terms of real-world monitoring.
      2. The XD One’s performance was both consistent, repeatable and aligned with the best of the gravimetric sampling units (the current industry standard/methodology) at these dust levels.
      3. The XD One also performed as well or better than competitor products in the ‘stepped-tests’.

      Independent HSE tests prove the XD One is the leading wearable dust monitor on the market

      Saving lives and protecting workers’ health by preventing dust inhalation is a serious business. And so too is putting our technology and our reputation on the line against much bigger and better funded competitors, and vastly more expensive products. 

      The HSE testing provided a clear endorsement of our ‘marker leader’ claim.  But it went further still. Taking into account the XD One’s size and weight, cost, ease of set up and ease of maintenance, the tests underlined its practical, performance and competitive advantages in the most emphatic terms. 

      The results speak for themselves.

      When faced with a rational decision between the XD One and a competing product – the  choice is crystal clear. You’d choose the XD One every time.

        Our dust monitoring technology aims to save 12,000 lives in the UK each year

        Are you attending this year’s Safety in Construction Show

        If you didn’t already know, it’s being held at Holywell Park Conference Centre, Loughborough, on Wednesday 6 October 2021.

        The show presents the perfect opportunity to discover an ‘outstanding range of safety products, applications, services and training specifically designed for the construction industry,’ as well as the opportunity to get back to some good old-fashioned face-to-face networking alongside other safety industry professionals.

        A highlight of the event for anyone in construction, mining, tunnelling, heavy industry or manufacturing, will be the UK launch of our new, game changing, Trolex XD One Personal Dust Monitor

        Did you know that every year 12,000 workers in the UK die from preventable diseases directly related to dust and particulate inhalation? A figure, that world wide, rockets to more than half a million avoidable deaths every single year? 

        You might not. But we certainly do.

        Which is why we’ve placed the XD One Personal Dust Monitor at the heart of our 10-year mission:

        For every worker exposed to dangerous particulates to have wearable personal dust monitoring equipment by 2031.

        A mission we can only achieve if:

        1. Businesses become properly aware of the threats posed by dust and particulates.
        2. People in those businesses understand that the technology to prevent deaths and illness already exists and is already available. 

        Designed and manufactured by Trolex, the XD One is everything every industry needs to protect workers exposed to harmful dust, and in the process help achieve that 10-year mission.

        Which is why Trolex Technical Director, Kyle Hudson will be speaking live at the Safety in Construction show, Wednesday 6  October, Theatre 2, at 11.15am.

        In his 30 minute presentation Kyle will spell out the very many dangers of particulate dust, introduce the XD One as the perfect way to protect workers’ health and ultimately their lives, and call on every health and safety specialist to join us on our mission.

        And more than just protecting health and saving lives, there are no shortage of other benefits too. From new operational efficiencies and litigation avoidance to public relations and recruitment opportunities. 

        But we can’t do this on our own. 

        It’s not possible for any one organisation to take on such an ambitious, international mission alone. All we can do is highlight the opportunity in front of us all and get the ball rolling by designing and manufacturing the XD One.

        In reality it will take a movement, and it will take momentum. A momentum that can only begin with a clear understanding of the particulate threat that surrounds us all and a hands-on appreciation of the technology we’ve developed to combat it.

        What better way to start than by joining Kyle as he shares our mission live at the Safety in Construction show, on Wednesday 6th October, Theatre 2, at 11.15am.

        See you there?

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          XD One demo units have landed in central Europe

          Working with distributors and partners overseas is how Trolex gain exclusive access to the businesses that need our products to save the lives of their employees.

          We value our close partners as much as our own employees and have good relationships that last way beyond the business transaction. This includes trusting our partners to demonstrate our new technology to their customers, in mutual understanding, so our partners and their customers can get ‘up close and personal’ to our XD One Personal Dust Monitor and can try it out for themselves in a real-life environment.

          Our Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg (BeNeLux) distributor, BASystemen, ordered six XD One demo units to give to their customers to trial. They landed a few days ago, and their directors are already behind our campaign to get these monitors into the hands of every worker who needs one, and to start saving lives straight away.

          Khoa Nguyen is a keen advocate of field trails, and comments ‘we love feedback!’ He intends to lend them out to his customers so they can ‘try out all functionalities’.

          The dust monitors themselves have been met with great praise and Khoa says, ‘We truly believe that the XD One Personal Dust Monitor is a nice solution to the market needs for a personal dust monitor, which is simple to use, reliable and cost effective’. He adds, ‘[s]ize is great, weight is perfect and very easy to use’.

          Khoa is happy with our partnership, and concludes by saying, ‘Response is quick and partner conditions are good so both parties benefit long term’ and suggests that as a company, BASystemen can ‘[d]efinitely learn from this’.

          If you are a distributor and would like to request demo units of the XD One Personal Dust Monitor, please get in touch using the contact form below.

          Contact Us