Author(s): Ross MH, Murray J
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Abstract This review is based on research-based literature on occupational lung disease in the mining and related industries, focusing on conditions of public health importance arising from asbestos, coal and silica exposure. Both 'traditional' and 'new' concerns about occupational respiratory disease in miners are addressed, with the inclusion of practical evidence-based findings relevant to practitioners working in developed and developing countries. Mining is not a homogeneous industry since current miners work in formal and informal operations with numerous, and often multiple, air-borne exposures. A further occupational health challenge facing primary care practitioners are ex-miners presenting with disease only after long latency. The sequelae of silica exposure remain an occupational health priority, particularly for practitioners who serve populations with concomitant HIV and tuberculosis infection and even when exposure is apparently below the statutory occupational exposure level. Coal workers' pneumoconiosis, asbestos related diseases, lung cancer and other occupational respiratory diseases remain of considerable importance even after mining operations cease. While mining exposures contribute significantly to lung disease, smoking is a major factor in the development of lung cancer and chronic obstructive airways disease necessitating a comprehensive approach for prevention and control of mining-related occupational lung disease.
This article was published in Occup Med (Lond)
and referenced in Occupational Medicine & Health Affairs