Other pneumoconiosis

Topic Completed: 1 September 2011

Minor changes: 16 April 2021

Copyright: 2003-2021,, Inc.

PubMed search: pneumoconiosis [title] "aluminum"

Elliot Weisenberg, M.D.
Page views in 2021 to date: 1,119
Cite this page: Weisenberg E. Other pneumoconiosis. website. Accessed October 18th, 2021.
  • Chronic exposure to high concentrations of fumes during aluminum arc welding causes severe pneumoconiosis with diffuse pulmonary accumulation of aluminum metal and reduction in lung function (distinct from siderosis or welder's pneumoconiosis)
  • Disease also described in manufacturers of aluminum abrasives (Shaver's disease), aluminum smelters and polishers
  • Presence of carbon particles in lung
  • Not a pathologic condition necessarily, often due to urban living
  • Carbon particles are relatively inert and usually don't elicit reactive fibrosis
  • When extensive, may cause coal workers' pneumoconiosis (below)
  • Due to heavy exposure to dusts or fumes of beryllium, more common in nuclear and aerospace industries
  • Acute disease has disappeared due to exposure standards
  • Low dose exposure may cause granulomatous lesions that mimic sarcoidosis
  • Chronic berylliosis due to cell mediated immunity
  • 2% of those exposed develop disease; delayed hypersensitivity leads to noncaseating granulomas in lungs and hilar nodes, which become progressively fibrotic; no symptoms until late
  • Heavy beryllium exposure is linked to lung cancer
  • Associated with iron workers and welders
  • Welders exposed to fumes with metal oxide particles 0.1 to 1.0 μm in diameter (iron, titanium, manganese and aluminum)
  • Lungs usually heavily pigmented without significant fibrosis
  • Aluminum (separate topic) has higher risk for significant pulmonary disease
  • Concurrent cigarette smoking, asbestos exposure may complicate clinical and pathologic findings
  • Micro: dust within interstitium, usually iron predominates
Case reports
Gross description
  • Aluminum: slate gray metallic appearance in scarred areas and peribronchial lymph nodes
Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Aluminum: patchy pleural thickening, emphysematous blebs, pneumothorax and considerable fibrous replacement of lung tissue with aluminum containing macrophages; granulomatous disease has been described
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