What is Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis?
Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP) or black lung disease is caused by long-term exposure to respirable coal dust. Eposition of dust produces dust laden macrophages around bronchioles, occasionally causing focal bronchiolar emphysema.
Two Types of Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis
1. Simple coal worker’s pneumoconiosis
Simple pneumoconiosis is the disease in its early form and is characterised by the presence of nodular aggregations within the lungs that occur at the site at which the coal dust has aggregated. A chest x-ray will determine the extent and severity of the disease. This form of the disease is asymptomatic and a fairly mild form.
2. Progressive massive fibrosis
The simple form of the disease can develop into progressive massive fibrosis if prolonged exposure to the source of dust is continued over time. It has been known for people suffering from PMF to be more susceptible to autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma.
Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis of Symptoms
Simple coal workers’ pneumoconiosis usually does not cause symptoms. Most chronic pulmonary symptoms in coal miners are caused by other conditions, such as industrial bronchitis due to coal dust or coincident emphysema due to smoking. Cough can be chronic and problematic in patients even after they leave the workplace, even in those who do not smoke. The severe stages of progressive massive fibrosis, on the other hand, cause coughing and often disabling shortness of breath.
Diagnosis is based on a history of exposure and chest x-ray or chest CT appearance. In patients with CWP, x-ray or CT reveals diffuse, small, rounded opacities or nodules. The specificity of the chest x-ray for PMF is low because up to one third of the lesions identified as being PMF turn out to be cancers, scars, or other disorders. Chest CT is more sensitive and specific than chest x-ray for detecting coalescing nodules, early PMF, and cavitation. Because patients with CWP often have had exposure to both silica dust and coal dust, surveillance for TB is usually done.