Dust Disease

Exposure to dust and fumes at work can cause one or more of several types of chest diseases.

There are many types of respiratory disease including:

  • Pneumoconiosis
  • Silicosis
  • Chronic Bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease/Chronic Obstructive Airways Disease (known as COPD/COAD)
  • Byssinosis
  • Occupations most at risk of respiratory diseases include:
  • Construction
  • Mining – coal mine dust
  • Textiles, leather and rubber
  • Plastics and synthetics manufacture
  • Spray painters
  • Welders
  • Bakers and flour confectioners
  • Cotton mills, yarn and fabric manufacture


Byssinosis (or brown lung disease) is caused by exposure to cotton dust or dusts from other vegetable fibers such as flax, hemp, or sisal while at work in inadequately ventilated working environments.

Byssinosis commonly occurs in workers who are employed in cotton mills, yarn and fabric manufacture industries.


Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, (or black lung disease) is caused by inhaling coal dust, typically dust produced in coal mining.
Coal dust is a fine powdered form of coal, which is created by the crushing, grinding, or pulverizing of coal.


Silicosis is caused by inhaling silica dust (or chrystalline silica) from sand and rock, primarily in mines, quarries, and in occupations such as sandblasting. If this dust is inhaled, small particles of it can become embedded into parts of the lung. The dust is toxic to the lining of the lungs causing a strong inflammatory reaction. Eventually, this causes the lung tissue to become irreversibly thickened and scarred – a condition known as fibrosis. This scar tissue prevents the lungs from taking in oxygen properly.

For further information, or to discuss respiratory related diseases please call either our Newcastle branch on (02) 4941 8999 or our Central Coast branch on (02) 4367 2600

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