Comparison of radiographic appearances with associated pathology and lung dust content in a group of coalworkers

Br J Ind Med. 1984 Nov;41(4):459-67. doi: 10.1136/oem.41.4.459.


The pathology and dust content of lungs from 261 coalminers in relation to the appearances of their chest radiographs taken within four years of death were examined. Radiological opacities of coalworkers' pneumoconiosis were more profuse the more dust was retained in lungs. Among the men who had mined low rank coal--that is, with a relatively high proportion of ash--the increase in profusion was most closely related to the ash component of the dust, whereas in men who had mined high rank coal both coal and ash increased in the lungs in relation to radiological profusion. The fine p type of opacity was found to be associated with more dust and a higher proportion of coal and less ash than the nodular r opacity, and was also more likely to be associated with emphysema. The pathological basis of the different types of opacity found on the radiographs of coalminers related to the number, size, and nodularity of the dust lesions. Larger fibrotic lesions were likely to appear as r opacities, whereas fine reticular dust deposition was most likely to present as p opacities, q opacities showing a mixture of appearances. The study has shown that the composition of dust retained in the lung, as well as its amount, makes an important contribution to the radiographic appearances of pneumoconiosis. In particular, the r type of lesion on the radiograph of a low rank coalminer indicates the possibility of a silicotic like lesion.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Coal Mining*
  • Dust / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Lung / analysis
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung / pathology
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / pathology
  • Pneumoconiosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pneumoconiosis / pathology
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / diagnostic imaging
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / etiology
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / pathology
  • Radiography
  • United Kingdom


  • Dust