Coal Worker's Pneumoconiosis

Coal mine dust causes a spectrum of lung diseases. These include Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis, silicosis, mixed dust pneumoconiosis, dust-related diffuse fibrosis (which can be mistaken for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. These diseases continues to be a problem in the United States, particularly in the central Appalachian region.

Pneumoconiosis, a progressive and irreversible lung disease, is a systemic occupational disease caused by long-term dust inhalation. Patients with pneumoconiosis not only lose their livelihood, but also have a shorter life expectancy. Although environmental factors are prominent in the pathogenesis of pneumoconiosis, a genetic component of susceptibility has also been established. Pulmonary disorders caused by exposure to occupational hazards and silica are typical forms of pneumoconiosis.

The occurrence of coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP) in coal miners has increased in the last two decades, especially among those working in small mines.4 The disease can continue to progress even after cessation of coal mine dust exposure, but there is no cure. Supportive therapies include bronchodilators for airflow limitation, antibiotics for respiratory infections, supplemental oxygen to manage hypoxemia, and smoking cessation programs.

Pneumonia is one of the most common disease that requires hospitalization and eventually leads to death among pneumoconiosis patients and others suffering from chronic respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or interstitial lung disease.1

Coal worker

Patients with pneumoconiosis are at high risk for developing congestive heart failure, particularly in cases with coexisting coronary artery disease, hypertension, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.2

Dental laboratory technicians are at risk of developing occupational pneumoconiosis due to exposure to various potentially toxic substances in their working environment. The disease may have clinical signs similar to those seen in pulmonary tuberculosis and chronic necrotising aspergillosis.3


  1. Risk factors associated with mortality from pneumonia among patients with pneumoconiosis. Bum Seak Jo et al. Ann Occup Environ Med. 2016; 28: 19.
  2. Pneumoconiosis increases the risk of congestive heart failure. A nationwide population-based cohort study. Chia-Ming Yen et al. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Jun; 95(25): e3972.
  3. Dental technician pneumoconiosis mimicking pulmonary tuberculosis: a case report. Han Loong Tan et al. BMC Pulm Med. 2016; 16(1): 131.
  4. Small mine size is associated with lung function abnormality and pneumoconiosis among underground coal miners in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia David J Blackley,1,2 Cara N Halldin,1 Mei Lin Wang,1 and A Scott Laney1. Occup Environ Med. 2014 Oct; 71(10): 690–694.



Home Contact RSS