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Coal workers' lung diseases and silicosis.

Parker JE; Petsonk EL
Fishman's pulmonary diseases and disorders, third edition. Fishman AP, Elias JA. Fishman JA, Grippi MA, Kaiser LR, Senior R, eds., New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997 Sep; :901-914
Coal miners are at risk for developing several distinct clinical illnesses in relation to their occupational exposures. Historically, some names applied to these disorders were miners' asthma, phthisis, anthracosis, and, in Scotland, miners' black lung. It was recognized early that these afflictions were related to the occupation of mining. However, it wasn't until the development of specialized techniques such as chest radiography and pulmonary function testing, the discovery of the tubercle bacillus, and the sophisticated histologic examination of tissue that respiratory diseases affecting miners could be differentiated and defined. Coal workers; pneumoconiosis (CWP) is the parenchymal lung disease that results from the inhalation and deposition of coal mind dust and the tissue's reaction to its presence. This occupational lung disease was first defined in the early 1800s. In addition to CWP, coal mine dust exposure increases a miner's risk of developing chronic bronchitis and pathologic emphysema and accelerates loss of ventilatory lung function. For a long time, the pneumoconiosis that affected coal miners was thought to be silicosis. In the 1930s, however, it was argued for the first time that silicosis, CWP, and bronchitis were distinct clinically and pathologically. Unfortunately, it was also suggested that coal dust was not harmful, despite reports of the adverse effects from coal dust among coal trimmers. It was not until washed coal that was free of silica was shown to produce dust disease in the lungs of stevedores leveling coal in the holds of ships that CWP was widely accepted as a distinct pathologic entity. In the United States, little attention was given to coal miner's respiratory diseases until the Public Health Service (USPHS) conducted a pilot prevalence study of CWP in the early 1900s. Since then, a large number of studies, preformed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, have greatly increases our knowledge of lung diseases associated with coal mining in the United States.
Occupational-exposure; Occupational-hazards; Coal-dust; Coal-miners; Coal-mining; Coal-workers-pneumoconiosis; Occupational-diseases; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Lung-disease; Silica-dusts; Silicosis; Epidemiology; Pathology; Mortality-data; Disease-prevention; Medical-screening; Surveillance-programs
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, Morgantown, WV 26505
Publication Date
Document Type
Fishman AP; Elias JA; Fishman JA; Grippi MA; Kaiser LR; Senior R
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NIOSH Division
Source Name
Fishman's pulmonary diseases and disorders, third edition
Page last reviewed: May 11, 2023
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division