Lung - nontumor

Topic Completed: 1 September 2011

Revised: 30 January 2019, last major update September 2011

Copyright: (c) 2003-2017,, Inc.

PubMed search: pneumoconiosis [title] general

Elliot Weisenberg, M.D.
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Table of Contents
Definition / general
Cite this page: Weisenberg E. General. website. Accessed May 31st, 2020.
Definition / general
  • Nonneoplastic disease due to inhalation of mineral dust, other particulates, toxic fumes and vapors, exclusive of asthma, bronchitis and emphysema
  • Some individuals are more prone to development of lung disease with exposure to pneumoconiosis inducing agents
  • Incidence decreasing in industrialized world due to dust reduction measures
  • Amount of dust retained in lungs depends on particulate size (dangerous: 1 - 5 mm, particles reach and impact in terminal small airways and alveoli)
  • Particles are phagocytosed by macrophages, but they may be overwhelmed
  • Large particles resist dissolution, may evoke fibrosing collagenous pneumoconiosis (silicosis); quartz directly injures membranes by interacting with free radicals
  • Silica causes macrophages to release mediators which stimulate fibroblasts
  • Particles may also cause immune response (immune complex formation)
  • Inflammatory response from particles reaches lymphatics, capable of causing local damage and systemic response
  • Exacerbating factors (tobacco smoke, air pollution) may worsen damage
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