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Perspectives

Black lung: the re-emergence of a preventable disease

Ryan F Hoy

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Abstract

Black lung and other occupational lung diseases continue to occur in Australia. To protect workers’ respiratory health, ongoing vigilance is required to control hazardous occupational exposures.

Article Extract

  • Black lung disease (coal workers’ pneumoconiosis) has recently been identified in coal miners in Queensland dispelling the belief that this disease had been eradicated.
  • Coal mine dust is a complex mixture that can cause pneumoconiosis, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
  • Coal miners undergo health monitoring with the aim of detecting early warning signs of lung disease. The success of health surveillance requires all aspects of monitoring to be performed at a high standard.
  • In developing countries, black lung disease continues to be a major public health problem.
  • Occupational lung diseases continue to occur in Australia and should not be considered as diseases simply of historical interest.

Picture credit: © DMYTO/iStockphoto.com

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