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Coalworker's pneumoconiosis

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Coal worker's pneumoconiosis is a type of lung disease seen in coal workers due to excess deposition of coal dust in the lungs.

Histopathology of pulmonary anthracosis
Histopathology of pulmonary anthracosis

What are pneumoconiosis?

  • The pneumoconioses are a group of interstitial lung diseases caused by the inhalation of certain dusts and the lung tissue’s reaction to the dust.
  • The principal cause of the pneumoconioses is work-place exposure; environmental exposures have rarely given rise to these diseases.
  • The primary pneumoconioses are asbestosis, silicosis, and coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (commonly referred to as CWP or black lung).
  • As their names imply, they are caused by inhalation of asbestos fibers, silica dust, and coal mine dust.
  • Typically, these three diseases take many years to develop and be manifested, although in some cases – silicosis, particularly – rapidly progressive forms can occur after only short periods of intense exposure.
  • When severe, the diseases often lead to lung impairment, disability, and premature death. From a public health perspective, these conditions are entirely man-made, and can be avoided through appropriate dust control.
  • Other forms of pneumoconioses can be caused by inhaling dusts containing aluminum, antimony, barium, graphite, iron, kaolin, mica, talc, among other dusts.
  • There is also a form called mixed-dust pneumoconiosis. Overall, most physicians do not encounter these diseases very frequently. Byssinosis, caused by exposure to cotton dust, is sometimes included among the pneumoconioses, although its pattern of lung abnormality is different from the pneumoconioses.

Coal worker's pneumoconiosis

  • Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis (CWP), commonly referred to as black lung, is a type of pneumoconiosis caused by inhaling respirable coal mine dust.
  • Chest x-rays can show shadows in the lungs called opacities.
  • In severe cases, there are more opacities in a given area of the lung.
  • The most severe type of CWP is called progressive massive fibrosis (PMF).
  • In PMF, the opacities come together and become large.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a progressive disease that increases airways resistance.
  • This limits the amount of air that can be moved into and out of the lungs. COPD includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
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