What is pneumoconiosis?

Pneumoconiosis is a lung disease caused by breathing in certain dusts that damage your lungs and cause lung scarring.

Causes of pneumonoconiosis

If you inhale certain dusts, they can cause the lungs to become inflamed. This eventually leads to scarring in the lungs – or pulmonary fibrosis.

Pneumoconiosis is usually caused by breathing in dusts at work. The longer you’re exposed to the dust, the higher your risk of developing pneumonoconiosis. There are different types of pneumoconiosis, depending on the type of dust. The most common is coal workers’ pneumoconiosis or black lung disease. ‘Brown lung’ is pneumonoconiosis caused by breathing in cotton dust. Pneumoconiosis can also be caused by aluminium, barium, beryllium, talc and other dusts.

Although silicosis and asbestosis are types of pneumoconiosis, they are treated as a separate pulmonary fibrosis conditions.

Symptoms of pneumoconiosis

Pneumoconiosis symptoms include a cough, feeling breathless and feeling tired. If you have coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, you may also cough up black mucus.

Treatments for pneumoconiosis

Although there is no cure for pneumoconiosis, pulmonary rehabilitation and oxygen therapy may help improve your quality of life. It’s important to stop smoking and to get your annual flu vaccination.

Ongoing treatment

Expect to meet your medical team for appointments to discuss how the disease is progressing. Together you will decide on your treatments.

Outlook for pneumoconiosis

Pneumoconiosis usually takes a long time to develop and gets worse slowly. But if you smoke or have smoked, the progression may be faster. Complications of pneumoconiosis include pulmonary hypertension, COPD and lung cancer. It used to be associated with Tuberculosis, but that is now rare.

Other forms of pulmonary fibrosis

·      Asbestosis

·      COVID-19-related pulmonary fibrosis

·      Drug-induced pulmonary fibrosis

·      ‍Hypersensitivity pneumonitis

·      Non-specific interstitial pneumonia

·      ‍Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

·      Rheumatoid arthritis-ILD

·      Systemic sclerosis

·      Sarcoidosis

·      Silicosis

Information provided by Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis (APF) is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It’s intended as general information only. APF is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for any loss or damage suffered by users resulting from the information published on actionpf.org.

Further information for carers:

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