Black lung disease is a lung condition that arises after inhaling coal dust. The inhalation and buildup of coal dust into the lungs heightens the risk for ending up with chronic bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The inhalation and buildup of coal dust is the main cause of black lung disease. This is likely to occur among those who work in coal mines, coal trimming, graphite mining and carbon electrode or carbon black manufacturing.
Since this is a reaction to the buildup of dust in the lungs, the condition worsens during every exposure to the dust or after exposure ceased. The seriousness of the condition is based on the type of coal dust, amount of air dust in the air and length of exposure.
How are the lungs affected?
Once coal dust builds up in the lungs, a coal macule might form. The coal macule is a mixture of coal dust and macrophages.
When the condition progresses, the macules might form into a coal nodule which is an irregularity of the lung tissue. Over time, a form of emphysema or even fibrosis might form.
These nodules might grow to a bigger size and disrupt or stop the flow of air into the lungs.
Management of black lung disease
Even today, there is no available treatment that has been proven effective for black lung disease, but the complications that might arise can be managed.
The condition can be prevented by controlling the dust and ensuring proper ventilation in the workplace.