Occupational Lung Disease
Repeated exposure to harmful particles, chemicals, vapors or gases while
at work can cause a variety of occupational lung diseases. Some of these
are fairly well known (such as black lung, affecting unprotected coal
miners, or asbestosis, which affects persons who have worked with
For more information, please call 617-789-2AIR (2247) or
Our multidisciplinary Occupational Lung Disease team is led by Gerard B.
Hayes, MD, director of Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellowship Program.
Occupational Lung Disease symptoms often include:
Allergies with hay fever-like symptoms.
Chronic irritation that can scar the lungs.
Cancer of the lungs or the lining of the chest and lungs
(mesothelioma), which may be due to asbestos exposure
Death of cells in the airways and air sacs of the lungs
Many different kinds of particles, mists, vapors or gases can harm the
lungs, including organic materials like grain dusts, cotton dust or
animal dander; certain chemicals or metal salts, including asbestos.
The names of certain occupational lung diseases are based on the cause
of the disease. Some occupational lung diseases and people who are at
risk of developing them are:
Asbestosis: from exposure to asbestos
Benign pneumoconiosis, pneumoconiosis, which
may affect welders and metal workers
Beryllium disease, which may affect
metallurgical (castings) workers
Byssinosis which may affect people who work
with certain natural textiles, such as cotton, hemp, jute and
Hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which may affect
workers in office buildings that have air-conditioning systems
contaminated by certain fungi and bacteria; and workers exposed
Occupational asthma may affect people who work
with animals, shellfish, irritating gases, vapors and mists,
grains, castor beans, isocyanates (urethanes), dyes,
antibiotics, epoxy resins, tea and enzymes used in making
detergent, malt, leather goods, latex, jewelry abrasives and
Silicosis may affect people who work around
clay, sand and stone dust