Videos on pneumoconioses

Prevention of pneumoconioses caused by fibrogenic mineral dust

Date issued: 29 April 2022 |
The pneumoconioses are a group of lung diseases caused by the lung’s reaction to inhaling certain dusts. The main cause of pneumoconioses is work-place exposure.

Exposure to workplace mineral dust is a significant cause of work disability, morbidity and mortality in working populations worldwide. Pneumoconiosis - the fibrotic reaction of pulmonary tissue to retained dust - is one of the major debilitating outcomes of such exposure. Pneumoconiosis is among the most common occupational diseases in the world, in particular in developing countries. Unfortunately, lung damage due to pulmonary fibrosis is permanent - not reversible - and can eventually lead to death. Pneumoconiosis has no cure and the treatment options are limited and primarily palliative, but it can be prevented.

Primary fibrogenic minerals of occupational relevance are silicon dioxide, coal (often contaminated with silica) and asbestos. There are many minerals, silicates in particular such as talc, kaolin, and mica, which are intermediate in their ability to produce fibrotic lesions in the lungs. Exposure to aluminium dust has been associated with lung fibrosis, but the evidence is not consistent in determining whether fibrogenesis is caused by pure aluminium or by other contaminants.

To raise awareness on the hazardous effects of exposure to workplace mineral dust and on the importance to prevent pneumoconioses and protect workers, the ILO presents the following three videos:

Pneumoconiosis and the high-risk sectors

Prevent pneumoconiosis and protect workers’ rights

The employer has the primary accountability for prevention of pneumoconiosis