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Micrograph of asbestosis (with ferruginous bodies), a type of pneumoconiosis. H&E stain.
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 J60-J65
ICD-9-CM 500-505
DiseasesDB 31746
MeSH D011009

Pneumoconiosis is an occupational lung disease and a restrictive lung disease caused by the inhalation of dust, often in mines.

In 2013 it resulted in 260,000 deaths up from 251,000 deaths in 1990.[1] Of these deaths 46,000 were due to silicosis, 24,000 due to asbestosis and 25,000 due to coal workers pneumoconiosis.[1]


  • Types 1
  • Diagnosis 2
  • Epidemiology 3
  • Popular culture 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8


Depending upon the type of dust, the disease is given different names:


Positive indications on patient assessment:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest X-ray may show a characteristic patchy, subpleural, bibasilar interstitial infiltrates or small cystic radiolucencies called honeycombing.

Pneumoconiosis in combination with multiple pulmonary rheumatoid nodules in rheumatoid arthritis patients is known as Caplan's syndrome.[2]


In 2013 it resulted in 260,000 deaths up from 251,000 deaths in 1990.[1] Of these deaths 46,000 were due to silicosis, 24,000 due to asbestosis and 25,000 due to coal workers pneumoconiosis.[1]

Popular culture

  • In the classic British film Brief Encounter (1945), derived from a Noël Coward play, housewife Laura (Celia Johnson) and physician Alec (Trevor Howard) begin an affair. She is desperately mesmerized in a train station lounge by his evocation of his passion for pneumoconioses.
  • In the 1995 British film Brassed Off, the band leader (Pete Postlethwaite) in a small coal-mining town is hospitalized with pneumoconiosis.
  • A 2006 documentary film by Shane Roberts features interviews with miners suffering from the disease and footage shot inside the mine
  • An episode of 1000 Ways to Die featured an incident where two kitchen workers succumb to pneumoconiosis from playing in cocoa powder.
  • In the puzzle/shooter video game Portal 2, former CEO and founder of Aperture Science Laboratories, Cave Johnson, purportedly contracted and died of lunar pneumoconiosis after prolonged exposure to the moon rocks he was using in teleportation technology research.
  • In the 2001 film Zoolander, the "black lung" is referenced to after the male model protagonist spends one day working in a coal mine.[3]
  • In the 1939 movie Four Wives, Eddie Albert plays a doctor studying pneumoconiosis.
  • In the 2004 BBC Miniseries North & South (TV serial), Bessy Higgins dies from pneumoconiosis from working in the cotton mill.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d GBD 2013 Mortality and Causes of Death, Collaborators (17 December 2014). "Global, regional, and national age-sex specific all-cause and cause-specific mortality for 240 causes of death, 1990-2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013.". Lancet.  
  2. ^ Andreoli, Thomas, ed. CECIL Essentials of Medicine. Saunders: Pennsylvania, 2004. p. 737.
  3. ^ "Zoolander (2001)". 

Further reading

  • Cochrane, A.L.; Blythe, M. (1989). One Man's Medicine, an autobiography of Professor Archie Cochrane. London: BMJ Books. (Paperback ed. (2009) Cardiff University ISBN 0954088433.  

External links

  • "Pneumoconioses". NIOSH Safety and Health Topic. Center for Disease Control. 
  • "Black Lung Benefits Act". U.S. Department of Labor. 
  • Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis at Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy Professional Edition
  • Black Lung — United Mine Workers of America
  • "Black Lung" (PDF). U.S. Department of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration. 
  • A Conversation about Mining and Black Lung Disease
  • Flavorings-Related Lung Disease
  • The Institute of Occupational Medicine and its research into pneumocomiosis
  • Miller, B.G.; Kinnear, A.G. Pneumoconiosis in coalminers and exposure to dust of variable quartz content (PDF) (Technical report).  

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