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Diseases reference index «Coal worker's pneumoconiosis»

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


Coal worker's pneumoconiosis occurs in two forms: simple and complicated (progressive massive fibrosis, or PMF).

Your risk of developing the disease depends on how long you have been around the 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 additional harmful effect on the lungs.

If complicated coal worker's pneumoconiosis occurs along with rheumatoid arthritis, it is called Caplan syndrome.


  • Chronic cough
  • Shortness of breath

Exams and Tests

The doctor will perform a physical exam and listen to your lungs with a stethoscope. A chest x-ray will be taken.


There is no specific treatment for this disorder. You should avoid further exposure to the dust.

Support Groups

For additional resources, see lung disease support group.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The outcome for the simple form is usually good. It rarely causes disability or death. The complicated form may cause shortness of breath that gets progressively worse.

Possible Complications

Complications may include:

  • Cor pulmonale (failure of the right side of the heart)
  • Lung Cancer
  • Pulmonary tuberculosis
  • Respiratory failure

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop symptoms of coal worker's pneumoconiosis.


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

Alternative Names

Black lung disease; Pneumoconiosis; Anthrosilicosis

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