Coal mine dust lung disease. New lessons from old exposure

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2013 Jun 1;187(11):1178-85. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201301-0042CI.


Coal mining remains a sizable industry, with millions of working and retired coal miners worldwide. This article provides an update on recent advances in the understanding of respiratory health issues in coal miners and focuses on the spectrum of disease caused by inhalation of coal mine dust, termed coal mine dust lung disease. In addition to the historical interstitial lung diseases (coal worker's pneumoconiosis, silicosis, and mixed dust pneumoconiosis), coal miners are at risk for dust-related diffuse fibrosis and chronic airway diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Recent recognition of rapidly progressive pneumoconiosis in younger miners, mainly in the eastern United States, has increased the sense of urgency and the need for vigilance in medical research, clinical diagnosis, and exposure prevention. Given the risk for disease progression even after exposure removal, along with few medical treatment options, there is an important role for chest physicians in the recognition and management of lung disease associated with work in coal mining.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthracosis* / diagnosis
  • Anthracosis* / epidemiology
  • Anthracosis* / prevention & control
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Coal / adverse effects*
  • Coal Mining*
  • Disease Progression
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Occupational Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Occupational Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Primary Prevention / methods*
  • Radiography, Thoracic
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Coal