NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search
Lung diseases in coal workers.
Occupational lung disease. Banks DE, Parker JE, eds. New York: Chapman & Hall Medical, 1998 Apr; :161-181
Coal is not a pure mineral. It is formed by the accumulation of vegetable matter covered by sedimentary rock (thereby sealing it from air) and subjected to pressure and temperature over the ages. This causes the physical and chemical properties of the matter to change. The matter dries, becomes warmer, and loses oxygen content, all the while increasing the relative carbon content (Stahl. 1989). CWP is a disease distinct and separate from silicosis. Although the coal particle is not nearly as fibrogenic as the silica particle, excessive exposures over a period of time can overwhelm effective clearance mechanisms and initiate chronic interstitial lung disease. Simple CWP is clearly related to the amount of dust deposited within the lungs. PMF most often occurs on a background of simple CWP and is the result of dust deposition plus other inadequately defined host factors. Immunologic and local cellular factors may contribute to the development of the form of the disease. PMF is clearly associated with alterations in ventilatory, mechanical and vascular function of the lungs. These abnormalities in PMF contribute to the premature morbidity and mortality of this disease. Similarly, there is no specific therapy for CWP. Prevention remains the cornerstone of elimination this occupational lung disease. The education of workers and employers regarding the hazards of coal dust exposure and measurement and effective control of dust exposure remains the sole means of eliminating this disease.
Coal-mining; Coal-dust; Lung-disease; Dust-exposure; Coal-miners; Epidemiology
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, Morgantown, WV 26505
Occupational lung disease
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division