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Coal worker's pneumoconiosis

Definition

Coal worker's pneumoconiosis is a lung disease that results from breathing in dust from coal, graphite, or man-made carbon over a long period of time.

Alternative Names

Black lung disease; Pneumoconiosis; Anthrosilicosis

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Coal worker's pneumoconiosis occurs in two forms: simple and complicated (progressive massive fibrosis, or PMF).

Your risk of developing the disease depends on how long you have been around the coal dust. Most people with this disease are older than 50. Smoking does not increase your risk of developing this disease, but it may have an additional harmful effect on the lungs.

If complicated coal worker's pneumoconiosis occurs along with rheumatoid arthritis, it is called Caplan syndrome.

Symptoms

Signs and tests

The doctor will perform a physical exam and listen to your lungs with a stethoscope. A chest x-ray will be taken.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for this disorder. You should avoid further exposure to the dust.

Support Groups

For additional resources, see lung disease support group.

Expectations (prognosis)

The outcome for the simple form is usually good. It rarely causes disability or death. The complicated form may cause shortness of breath that gets progressively worse.

Complications

Complications may include:

Calling your health care provider

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop symptoms of coal worker's pneumoconiosis.

Prevention

Wear a protective mask when working around coal, graphite, or man-made carbon. Companies should enforce the maximum permitted dust levels.

References

Mason RJ, Murray JF, Broaddus VC, Nadel JA, eds. Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2005:1758-1763.


Review Date: 4/24/2009
Reviewed By: Allen J. Blaivas, DO, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine UMDNJ-NJMS, Attending Physician in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, Department of Veterans Affairs, VA New Jersey Health Care System, East Orange, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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