Research Projects



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Currentright arrow Completedright arrow


Currentright arrow Completedright arrow

Interventions to reduce silica and associated ill health in construction workers

The Silica study is part of the 3 inter-linked research projects of the IROD study - Interventions to Reduce Occupational Disease. 

Exposure to respirable crystalline Silica (RCS) is a well-known risk factor in the construction sector.  Even with decades of improvements in the industry, and with levels as low as the most stringent international standard of 25 μg, substantial risk remains.  RCS exposure is linked to silicosis, COPD, lung cancer, chronic kidney disease and other associated health factors.

We will recruit participants from the construction sector and evaluate their activity during 3 main stages of the study. 

In the first phase we will measure the participant’s environment for RCS levels using full shift air sampling and real time video exposure monitoring.  We will also monitor exposure in the participant by clinical testing and biological markers.

Based on results of the tests we will then work to develop and implement intervention strategies to reduce RCS exposure to an acceptable level either to international standards or lower. 

 In the final phase, we will repeat all tests to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention.

The findings of this research project are vital as studies on work-related exposures and health of construction workers in NZ are rare.  We aim to improve understanding in high risk areas and disseminate knowledge and effective control strategies within the building sector. 


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't Mannetje A. Cancer agents at work. Safeguard, 2020; March/April: 22-23. link icon

October 2017


  • Professor Chris Cunningham
  • Massey University, NZ
  • Professor Hans Kromhout
  • Utrecht University, Netherlands
  • Professor Tony LaMontagne
  • Deakin University, Australia
  • Professor Jochen Mueller
  • Queensland University, Australia
  • Professor Janet Leathem
  • Massey University, NZ
  • Professor David Fishwick
  • University of Sheffield, UK
  • Professor Martie van Tongeren
  • University of Manchester, UK
  • Dr Aaron Blair
  • National Cancer Institute, USA


  • Health Research Council of New Zealand