Coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP), otherwise known as black lung disease, is an occupational disease that affects people working in around coal mines. CWP is caused by coal dust entering the lungs. This dust cannot be destroyed or disposed of by the human body. Instead, the buildup of coal dust particulates causes inflammation, fibrosis, and (in extreme cases) necrosis (tissue death).
Simple CWP manifests primarily in the upper regions of the lungs, the initial site of coal dust accumulation. Over time, this can become complicated CWP, otherwise known as progressive massive fibrosis. People with complicated CWP have a large amount of scarring on their lungs.
Symptoms are progressive and can take many years to develop. They include cough (with or without sputum), shortness of breath, and chest tightening.
CWP is usually diagnosed by chest imaging (i.e., x-ray) and pulmonary function testing.
If you worked in or around coal mines and suspect that you may have black lung disease, you may be eligible for state and federal benefits. Call our office for a free case evaluation.