Coal worker's pneumoconiosis is a lung disease caused by breathing in dust from coal, graphite, or man-made carbon for a long time.

Alternative Names

Black lung disease; Pneumoconiosis; Anthrosilicosis


Coal worker's pneumoconiosis occurs in 2 forms: simple and complicated (progressive massive fibrosis, or PMF).

Your risk of developing the disease depends on how long you have been around the coal dust. Most people with this disease are older than 50. Smoking does not increase your risk of developing this disease, but it may have an additional harmful effect on the lungs.

If coal worker's pneumoconiosis occurs along with rheumatoid arthritis, it is called Caplan syndrome


  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic cough

Exams and Tests

The doctor will perform a physical exam and listen to your lungs with a stethoscope. A chest x-ray will be taken.


There is no specific treatment for this disorder. You should avoid further exposure to the dust.

Support Groups

For additional resources, see lung disease support group.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The outcome for the simple form is usually good. In rare cases, the complicated form may get suddently worse. It rarely causes disability or death.

Possible Complications

Complications may include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop symptoms of coal worker's pneumoconiosis.


Wear a protective mask when working around coal, graphite, or man-made carbon. Companies should enforce the maximum permitted dust levels.

Mason RJ, Murray J, VC Broaddus, Nadel J. Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders; 2005:1758-1763.

Noble J. Textbook of Primary Care Medicine. 3rd ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2001:694-697.

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