Pneumoconiosis is a disease caused by breathing in small dust particles from mineral deposits. The risk of developing this disease is most common among those who work with mineral dusts in high concentrations, like miners. Not using the right personal protective equipment can lead to the development of the disease as a person is exposed to the dangerous dusts over time.
Everyone in the world is exposed to dust, but it's unlikely to be in a high enough quantity to cause pneumoconiosis. In the open atmosphere, dusts are spread out in smaller concentrations, so the average person isn't likely to need to worry about this workplace-specific disease.
How can you recognize pneumoconiosis?
Pneumoconiosis has many different symptoms that can mimic other diseases. Since that's the case, it's a good idea to let your doctor know that you've been exposed to mineral dusts in the past. Some of the symptoms that you may begin to develop include shortness of breath, coughing with or without sputum and tightness in the chest. Hypoxemia is possible if there isn't enough oxygen reaching your blood and organs. When pneumoconiosis is advanced, hypoxemia may be present at all times. Other patients may only suffer from it during activities.
Which mineral dusts cause pneumoconiosis?
While many different kinds can cause it, the most common mineral dusts to lead to pneumoconiosis include coal dust, silica and asbestos. If you've been exposed to any of these minerals, you may wish to seek a doctor's opinion about your symptoms.
What else should you know about mineral dusts?
They can cause a few different diseases including asbestosis, coal workers' pneumoconiosis and silicosis. Pneumoconiosis is also known as Black Lung Disease because the dust becomes trapped in the lungs. Over time, this turns the lining of the lungs black.
Treatment is important if you have any of these diseases, because they could progress into an acute disease that is much more difficult to manage later on.