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Coal workers' lung diseases and silicosis.

Petsonk EL; Parker JE
Fishman's pulmonary diseases and disorders, fourth edition. Fishman AP, Elias JA, Fishman JA, Grippi MA, Senior RM, Pack AI, eds. New York: McGraw Hill, 2008 Apr; :967-980
Coal miners are at risk for developing several distinct clinical illnesses in relation to their occupational exposures. Historically, some names applied to these conditions 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, pulmonary function testing, the discovery of the tubercle bacillus, and sophisticated histological examination of tissue that respiratory diseases affecting miners could be separated and defined. Coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP) is the parenchymal lung disease that results from the inhalation and deposition of coal mine dust, and the tissue's reaction to its presence. This occupational lung disease was first described in the early 1800s. In addition to CWP, coal mine dust exposures increase a miner's risk of developing chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and pathological emphysema Radon gas exposures in coal mines may exceed recommended levels and represent a risk for cancers of the lung and larynx. For a long time, the pneumoconiosis that affected coal miners was thought to be silicosis. In the 1930s, it was argued that silicosis, CWP, and bronchitis were distinct clinically and pathologically. Unfortunately, it was also suggested that coal dust was not harmful, in spite of reports of the adverse effects of coal dust among coal trimmers. It was not until washed coal, free of silica, was shown to produce a dust disease of the lungs in stevedores, who worked leveling coal in the holds of ships, that CWP was widely accepted as pathophysiologically distinct from silicosis. In the United States, little attention was given to coal miners' respiratory diseases until the Public Health Service conducted a pilot prevalence study of CWP in the early 1960s. Since then, a large number of studies performed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have greatly increased the knowledge and understanding of the nature and extent of lung diseases from 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
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Fishman AP; Elias JA; Fishman JA; Grippi MA; Senior RM; Pack AI
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Fishman's pulmonary diseases and disorders, fourth edition
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division