Banner image

Coal worker’s pneumoconiosis

Black lung disease; Pneumoconiosis; Anthrosilicosis

Find

Learn More

Causes

CWP occurs in two forms: simple and complicated (also called progressive massive fibrosis, or PMF).

Your risk for developing CWP depends on how long you have been around coal dust. Most people with this disease are older than 50. Smoking does not increase your risk of developing this disease, but it may have an added harmful effect on the lungs.

If CWP occurs with rheumatoid arthritis, it is called Caplan syndrome.

Definition

Coal worker's pneumoconiosis (CWP) is a lung disease that results from breathing in dust from coal, graphite, or man-made carbon over a long time.

CWP is also known as black lung disease.

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will perform a physical examination and ask about your symptoms.

Tests that may be done include:

Outlook (Prognosis)

Outcome for the simple form is usually good. It rarely causes disability or death. The complicated form may cause shortness of breath that worsens over time.

Possible Complications

Complications may include:

Prevention

Wear a protective mask when working around coal, graphite, or man-made carbon. Companies should enforce the maximum permitted dust levels. Avoid smoking.

Support Groups

Ask your provider about Black Lung Clinics in your area. Information can be found at the National Coalition of Black Lung and Respiratory Disease Clinics website: blacklungcoalition.org/clinics.

Symptoms

Symptoms of CWP include:

Treatment

 

Treatment may include any of the following, depending on how severe your symptoms are:

  • Medicines to keep the airways open and reduce mucus
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation to help you learn ways to breathe better
  • Oxygen therapy
You should also avoid further exposure to coal dust.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider right away if you develop a cough, shortness of breath, fever, or other signs of a lung infection, especially if you think you have the flu. Since your lungs are already damaged, it's very important to have the infection treated right away. This will prevent breathing problems from becoming severe, as well as further damage to your lungs.

Review Date: 5/21/2017
Reviewed By: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, MHS, Paul F. Harron, Jr. Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

ADAM QualityA.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 9-1-1 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only—they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-2010 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.