Pneumoconiosis is a type of diffuse interstitial lung disease (DILD) caused by inorganic dust inhalation at high concentration and, most of them, related to worplaces. They are caused by the accumulation of inhaled dust in lungs and associated lymph nodes.
They are included in a vast group of more than one hundred and fifty diseases, characterized by interstitial lung affectation pattern, called “difuse interstitial lung disease” (DILD) which, sometimes, can confuse the diagnosis. Some of them have unknown origin (sarcoidosis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)) and some have known origin, such as pneumoconiosis.
Peumoconiosis have a latency period (interval between exposure to an agent and developtoment of a consequent disease) variable and usually long and can apear some years after stopping the exposing. Usually there are no remarkable symptoms in the initial phases; because of this the diagnosis is not easy and it is necessary to monitor exposed workers during their career and also after it finished.
Their name is related to the causative agent:
- Silicosis: respirable crystaline silica (quartz, cristobalite, trydimite,..).
- Kaolinosis: kaolin.
- Talcosis: talc.
- Asbestosis: asbestos.
- Pneumoconiosis of the coal workers: coal and respirable crystaline silica.
- Berylliosis: beryllium.
- Siderosis: iron.
Nowadays there is no an effective treatment for neumoconiosis, so efforts should focus on the three levels of prevention.
Dust in the lungs can cause permanent lung parenchyma changes. Although this damages are differents and depend on the type of the mineral in the inhaled dust, usually the histological study of the lung is not neccessary, which is usually based on changes observed in chest X-ray.