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Pneumoconiosis (eg anthracosilicosis, silicosis, asbestosis, aluminosis, initially pneumokoniosis[1]) is chronic fibrosis of the lung due to dust exposure. Formal medicolegal definitions exist in most countries and terminology should be precise in medicolegal reports, although it is hardly able to be precise in all clinical or lay communication. Dusts such as wood[2], wood charcoal, carbon nanotubes[3] , talc[4], ceramics (eg dental)[5], rock, particularly silica containing, and rare earths have been implicated. Some dust such as beryllium salts are particularly problematical. Much such exposure is occupational and the effects come on many years after exposure. Diagnosis can require some expertise.

Coal worker's pneumoconiosis

"Black lung" can manifest 20 or more years after exposure[6]. Dust from open cast mining could cause the problem. Diagnostic criteria based on chest X-rays have been defined for purposes of industrial compensation[7].


  1. MEREWETHER ER. The pneumoconioses; developments, doubts, difficulties. Canadian Medical Association journal. 1950 Feb; 62(2):169-173.(Print)
  2. Riccò M. Lung fibrosis and exposure to wood dusts: Two case reports and review of the literature. Medycyna pracy. 2015; 66(5):739-747.(Print) (Link to article – subscription may be required.)
  3. Dong J, Ma Q. Myofibroblasts and lung fibrosis induced by carbon nanotube exposure. Particle and fibre toxicology. 2016 Nov; 13(1):60.(Electronic)
  4. Mandel JH, Alexander BH, Ramachandran G. A review of mortality associated with elongate mineral particle (EMP) exposure in occupational epidemiology studies of gold, talc, and taconite mining. American journal of industrial medicine. 2016 Dec; 59(12):1047-1060.(Print-Electronic) (Link to article – subscription may be required.)
  5. Tan HL, Faisal M, Soo CI, Ban AY, Manap RA, Hassan TM. Dental technician pneumoconiosis mimicking pulmonary tuberculosis: a case report. BMC pulmonary medicine. 2016 ; 16(1):131.(Electronic) (Link to article – subscription may be required.)
  6. Perret JL, Plush B, Lachapelle P, Hinks TS, Walter C, Clarke P, Irving L, Brady P, Dharmage SC, Stewart A. Coal mine dust lung disease in the modern era. Respirology (Carlton, Vic.). 2017 May; 22(4):662-670.(Print-Electronic) (Link to article – subscription may be required.)
  7. Halldin CN, Hale JM, Blackley DJ, Laney AS. Radiographic features of importance in the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-administered Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program: characterising the use of the 'other symbols'. BMJ open. 2017 Aug; 7(8):e015876.(Electronic) (Link to article – subscription may be required.)

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