COAL WORKERS' HEALTH SURVEILLANCE PROGRAM
Coal Mining-Related Respiratory Diseases
Coal mining-related respiratory diseases can affect the gas exchanging tissues of the lungs. These lung tissues remove carbon dioxide and take up oxygen. The diseases can also affect the lung passages that carry air back and forth during breathing. The passages are called airways. Depending on what is in the coal mine dust that is inhaled and the part of the lung that is affected, coal miners may develop several different types of respiratory diseases. For more information about each of the following coal mining-related respiratory diseases, click on the links provided.
Pneumoconiosis refers to fibrotic (scarring) disease of the lung tissue caused by inhalation of respirable-sized mineral dusts. The primary pneumoconiosis seen in coal miners are coal workers’ pneumoconiosis and silicosis. Asbestosis is another type of pneumoconiosis, usually seen in other work settings.
For more information on the following lung diseases see Pneumoconiosis.
- Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis (CWP), commonly referred to as black lung, is a type of pneumoconiosis caused by inhaling respirable coal mine dust. Chest x-rays can show shadows in the lungs called opacities. In severe cases, there are more opacities in a given area of the lung. The most severe type of CWP is called progressive massive fibrosis (PMF). In PMF, the opacities come together and become large.
- Silicosis is a type of pneumoconiosis caused by inhaling respirable crystalline silica. Quartz is a type of crystalline silica that causes silicosis in coal miners because it is a major component of rocks. Silicosis causes x-ray changes similar to CWP; and it is especially seen in coal miners who are exposed to rock dust, such as roof bolters in underground mines and drillers in surface mines.
For information on silica exposure see Silica.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a progressive disease that increases airways resistance. This limits the amount of air that can be moved into and out of the lungs. COPD includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
For more information see COPD. To learn about work-related COPD through interviews with a physician and patients diagnosed with the disease, click on Faces of Work-related COPD.