What is it?

Pneumoconiosis is a group of interstitial lung diseases caused by long term dust inhalation. It usually affects miners, builders and other workers who regularly breathe certain kinds of dust. Coalworker’s Pneumoconiosis, or miner’s lungs, refers to inhalation of coal or carbon. Other common exposures can be aluminium, asbestos, silicosis (grinder’s disease), bauxite, beryllium, iron, cotton, tin oxide, and talc. Depending on the size of the particle, it reaches different sites in the lung and can cause injury if not removed. Macrophages accumulate as a result of particle impaction, and trap the particulates. Then, products that mediate inflammatory reactions are released from macrophages and fibroblast proliferation initiates- causing a firm scar tissue that makes it harder for the lung to expand. For people who also smoke cigarettes, the effects worsens.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Pneumoconiosis with tuberculosis

Signs & symptoms

Symptoms may include long term cough, mucus and shortness of breath.


Diagnosis includes anamnesis of risk factors, physical examination and chest X-ray or CT scan. Pulmonary function test may be performed to evaluate how well the lung works, and oxygen blood saturation. For a final diagnosis a lung biopsy may be done.


Treatments usually include avoiding the exposure that caused the condition- which means leaving work and stop smoking. Inhaled bronchodilators and corticosteroids can help breath easier. Oxygen supplemental therapy may also help for those who have trouble breathing.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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