Pneumoconiosis refers to several different types of lung disease, the root cause of which is the inhalation of dust. Any dust can be hazardous if it's inhaled heavily over a long period of time, but there are certain types that are particularly associated with causing pneumoconiosis.
Thankfully, general every day exposure to dust is not sufficient to cause disease – the exposure has to be prolonged and intense, such as what might be experienced in certain workplace settings. When dust is inhaled in this way, the small particles can collect in the air sacs of the lungs (the alveoli) and create an inflammatory reaction. This then leads to fibrosis occurring to the interior of the lungs (known as pulmonary fibrosis), where the tissue thickens and scars, causing permanent damage to lung function. The severity of the irreversible symptoms of pneumoconiosis will depend on how much of the dust has been inhaled and for how long.
Which types of dust most commonly lead to pneumoconiosis?
The type of pneumoconiosis induced will be dependent on what type of dust is continuously inhaled by the sufferer. Dusts that can cause the illness include the following:
- Asbestos dust – This leads to asbestosis, a chronic condition caused by damage that occurs over time after inhalation of asbestos dust and fibres.
- Coal dust – This causes a particular type known as black lung disease, or coal workers' pneumoconiosis.
- Silica dust – This will cause silicosis, one of the most predominant forms. It is found in rocks, sand, and clay.
- Cotton and other fibres – Breathing in cotton can lead to byssinosis, or brown lung.
- Iron – Siderosis, more commonly known as welder's lung, is caused by iron particles lodging in the lings
- Beryllium – This can lead to a rare form of the disease known as berylliosis. Symptoms have been known to develop after just one instance of exposure, making beryllium a particularly dangerous substance.
- Kaolin – Found in china clay, this substance leads to kaolin pneumoconiosis.
- Graphite – This can also cause black lung disease.
A few other substances have been found to cause pneumoconiosis if inhaled over a long period of time. These include:
- Mould spores (from barley and hay, for example)
- Diacetyl (which is added to some types of popcorn)
Has your work put you in danger of developing pneumoconiosis?
Dusty environments are hazardous to workers; health and safety rules are in place to force employers to reduce the dust in their workplaces and their employee's exposure to it.
If you have been diagnosed with a form of pneumoconiosis and feel that your condition is due to operating in unsafe working conditions in the past, you may be able to make a compensation claim. Thompsons Solicitors have experience helping many victims of industrial diseases make a successful claim against previous employers who failed to provide them with the correct health and safety guidance.
We understand that being diagnosed with pneumoconiosis is likely to be a very difficult time for you and your loved ones, potentially requiring drastic lifestyle changes to manage and cope with the distressing symptoms. This is why we approach each case with sensitivity, care, and honesty so that we can ensure the whole process runs smoothly, striving reaching a just outcome as quickly and efficiently as we can.
Contact Thompsons today by calling us on 0800 0891331, and allow one of our legal experts to help put your mind at ease.