Health and Safety CONFERENCE

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A Clinical, Radiological and Occupational Review of Coal Mine Dust Lung Disease in Queensland

Dr Rhiannon McBean,
Research Coordinator, The Wesley Dust Disease Research Centre

Coal Mine Dust Lung Disease (CMDLD) is a term for of all lung diseases caused by inhalation of coal mine dust. CMDLD includes pneumoconiosis; coal workers’ and mixed dust pneumoconiosis (CWP; MDP) and silicosis, as well as inflammatory-type diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). CMDLD was undetected in the Queensland coal industry from 1984 to 2015. We aimed to understand the spectrum and severity of disease in recently diagnosed CMDLD cases (n= 79) by reviewing medical imaging, charts, lung function and occupational history.

CMDLD pneumoconioses were diagnosed in 71% of cases; CWP was most common (34%). Advanced disease was observed on medical imaging for 24% of subjects. Lung function results were equally split, 47.2% normal and 52.7% abnormal. On average, the tenure in coal mining was 26 years (range 6-45). The majority of subjects (44%) had only worked in underground coal mines. Surprisingly, 27% of subjects reported to have never worked in an underground coal mine.

We observed a diverse spectrum of diagnoses and severity ranged from mild to severe. Occupational history in terms of tenure and mine type varied across the subject group. It is hoped these findings will boost awareness of CMDLD