June 18, 2020

CDC Report Urges Increased Focus on Pneumoconioses

A new CDC report calls for increased focus on pneumoconiosis attributable to inorganic dusts such as aluminum, bauxite, beryllium, iron, and tin oxide. While deaths associated with nearly all types of pneumoconiosis decreased during 1999–2018, deaths from pneumoconiosis attributed to “other inorganic dusts” increased significantly, CDC has found.

The largest observed decreases in deaths were for those associated with coal workers’ pneumoconiosis and silicosis, for which deaths decreased by 69.6 percent and 53 percent, respectively. But during the same period, pneumoconiosis deaths attributed to other inorganic dusts increased by more than 100 percent, from 12 deaths in 1999 to 25 in 2018. Pneumoconioses attributable to other inorganic dusts include berylliosis and pulmonary siderosis, a disease most common in workers exposed to metal fumes during welding. The report states that the ongoing occurrence of pneumoconiosis deaths highlights the importance of reducing workers’ exposure to respirable dusts.

“Despite the decline in mortality and updated regulatory actions addressing occupational exposures to hazardous dusts, pneumoconiosis-associated deaths continue to occur, underscoring the need for maintaining exposure prevention measures and continued surveillance,” the authors state.

Prevention strategies such as occupational dust exposure reduction and early case detection as well as surveillance to monitor trends over time can be effective in lowering the number of pneumoconiosis-associated deaths, CDC’s report explains.

Recent concerns related to pneumoconiosis among workers include the re-emergence of progressive massive fibrosis, the most severe form of black lung disease, and new tasks and occupations such as quartz countertop installation and hydraulic fracturing that put workers at increased risk for silicosis. CDC’s new report also describes an increase in prevalence of asbestos-associated diseases like malignant mesothelioma.

Further details are available in the full report, “Trends in Pneumoconiosis Deaths — United States, 1999–2018.”