What is pneumoconiosis?
Pneumoconiosis, also known as black lung disease, is a disease affecting the lungs, and most commonly known to afflict coal workers. It is an occupational lung disease caused by prolonged exposure to and inhalation of dust, often in coal mines. It falls under the category of restrictive lung diseases that restrict lung expansion. It can be defined as the accumulation of coal dust or other dusts in the lungs and the reaction of the tissue to its presence.
Types of pneumoconiosis
There are two main types:
- Simple : known as coal worker’s pneumoconiosis (CWP)
- Complicated : known as progressive massive fibrosis (PMF).
more on the different types of pneumoconiosis.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Chronic cough and shortness of breath are the most common symptoms that prompt people to seek out treatment. Typically patients are diagnosed after taking chest x-rays and pulmonary function test, taking into account their occupational history such as exposure to coal dust.
Who gets it?
Most commonly, people who work in jobs where they are exposed to coal dust, such as coal miners, are at risk to get pneumoconiosis. This not only includes working in a coal mine or loading coal for storage, but also working in a graphite mine or mill, and manufacturing carbon electrodes and carbon black. The typical use for carbon electrodes is some large furnaces, and carbon black is used in tires and other rubber goods among many other products.
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