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Funds allocated for silicosis, black lung disease research

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The Queensland Government has allocated more than $3 million in research grants to help prevent and treat occupational dust lung diseases.

The grants are part of a $5 million election commitment to fund medical research into the diseases, particularly coal workers pneumoconiosis (black lung) and silicosis.

“These lung diseases are preventable and have limited treatment options, particularly where a worker has advanced disease,” Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said.

The grants will fund research to help prevent the diseases, pick them up earlier in affected workers, and find effective treatments, she says.

The University of Queensland will receive $1.5 million to collaborate with the Chicago School of Public Health at the University of Illinois to research early detection, prevention, and progression of mineral dust-related lung diseases.

In addition, $782,000 will go to i-Med Queensland for an investigation to compare screening methods and $827,000 has been awarded to UQ to collaborate with University of New South Wales to identify factors affecting the development, severity, and progression of the diseases.

The Government says it is “close to finalising” a silica code of practice for the construction industry, while other initiatives include a first code of practice for the engineered stone benchtop industry and creating a notifiable dust lung disease register.

Claims related to dust disease are an issue for insurers, contributing to IAG last week strengthening its commercial liability reserves.