Environmental Lung Diseases (Pneumoconiosis)


Environmental Lung Diseases (Pneumoconiosis)


  • asbestos lung cancer, asbestos lung disease, asbestos lung mesothelioma,
  • Asbestosis occurs in workers involved in building, boiler maker, ‘pipes, insulation materials, painters, electricians, fiber glass.
  • Asbestos includes  Silicates, chrysolite and other or­ganic materials involved in mining, milling and quarry work.
  • There is pulmonary fibrosis, cancers of respiratory tract, pleura, peritoneum.
  • There is typically diffuse interstitial fibrosis and pul­monary fibrosis.
  • There is reduction in diffusion capacity. There is thick­ening and calcification of parietal pleura especially at the bases. There may be pleural effusion.
  • X-ray shows irregular or linear opacities in lower lung fields. HRCT (High resolution computerized tomogra­phy) shows distinct changes.
  • Smoking and asbestosis increases incidence of lung cancer many times.
  • Lung cancers in asbestosis are – Squamous cell car­cinoma, adenocarcinoma, mesotheliomas, asbestos lung mesothelioma,  asbestos lung cancer, asbestos lung disease, asbestos lung mesothelioma,


  • is to avoid exposure and give symptom­atic management.


  • Free silica or crystalline quartz exposure is common in mining, stone cutting, glass and ceme.nt manufac­turing.
  • There is fibrosis, PMF (progressive massive fibrosis), silico tuberculosis.
  • There are small rounded opacities in upper lobes, hi­lar adenopathy, calcification of hilar nodes (egg-shell pattern).
  • There is progressive nodular fibrosis.
  • There is restrictive as well as obstructive lung dis­ease.
  • It leads to ventilatory failure.
  • Silico-tuberculosis is the term used for patients of silicosis with M. tuberculosis and atypical mycobac­terial infections.
  • X-ray, CT are diagnostic.


  • There is acute pneumonitis and chronic granuloma­tous disease. It is due to exposure to beryllium in workers involved in manufacture of alloys, ceramics, hi-tech electronics.
  • There is restrictiv Lung disease as in Sarcoidosis.
COL WORKER Pneumoconiosis

COAL WORKERS PNEUMOCONIOSIS Environmental Lung Diseases (Pneumoconiosis)


  • There is fibrosis, and small, round, regular opacities ~ the lung and nodular fibrosi~.
  • Calcification is not seen.
  • It is found in coal workers in coal mining with expo­sure to coal dust.
  • It is a mild disease.
  • Chest x-ray shows nodules from 1 cm to entire lobe. Caplan’s syndrome includes pneumoconiosis of coal workers, rheumatoid arthritis and PMF (progressive massive fibrosis). This syndrome is due to immuno­pathologic causes.


  • Byssinosis is a disease in persons exposed to cotton, flax, or hemp, especially those involved with blowing and straightening the fibers.
  • There is tightness in the chest especially on Mondays that is first work day of the week, decrease in FEV1, obstructive lung disease and bronchospasm.
  • Chest x-ray may show round, irregular, small or big opacities which may obscure (hide) lung markings.


  • is avoiding exposure, and antihistamines. The disease is severe in cigarette-smokers.


  • Many inorganic and organic dusts can cause environ­mental lung diseases.
  • Examples of Inorganic dusts – Antimony, arsenic, cadmium, cement, chromium, mica, iron, graphite.
  • Examples of Organic dusts – Cotton, grains, hay.
  • Acid fumes (sulphuric and nitric acid), ammonia, cya­nides, formaldehyde, ozone, sulphur dioxide, phos­gene.

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