Why is this rare lung disease killing so many dentists?
As far as localized epidemics go, this is one of the strangest.
A rare lung disease, Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis keeping on claiming the lives of dentists, and the CDC can’t figure why.
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis is a chronic disease where the tissue of the lunge become scarred. There is no way to stop or reverse the process, and over time the lungs being to fail being able to deliver oxygen to the vital organs.
The condition only affects around 200,000 people in the U.S. The CDC have revealed that they are worried about incidences in the dentist community. In 15 years one clinic in Virginia treated eight dentists and one technician for the rare condition.
So why is it affecting dentists?
In a recent CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, they revealed the dentists are 23 times more likely to develop the condition than anyone else.
The answer lies in plastic.
CDC investigators trawled through 900 IPF patients records looking for similarities in the cases. They found a link with occupational hazards containing toxic plastics.
The results state:
“Dentists and people who work in their offices are exposed to a specific set of hazards, particularly silica, polyvinyl siloxane, alginate and other toxic substances that can be inhaled when they’re polishing dental appliances or preparing amalgams.
Older dentists usually fare worse, both because of increased opportunities for exposure and because they may have practiced at a time when safety standards weren’t as stringent.”
Health and safety is far more stringent in the workplace now that it has ever been, but still procedures get ignored.
Paul Casamassimo, chief policy officer of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s Pediatric Oral Health & Research Center, spoke to CNN.
“We do work with materials and with human bioproducts that are potentially damaging to our bodies if we inhale them,”
Randall J. Nett, lead author of the study and medical officer with the U.S. Public Health Service, said:
“More work has to be done before we can make any conclusions about the risk dentists or other dental personnel have,”
One dentist admitted that he never wore his National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-certified respirator throughout his 40-year career, and only started to wear a protective mask in the last 20 years.
The CDC are now urging all dentists to adhere to the proper health and safety regulations.