dust on the lungs

Dust On The Lungs: Claim compensation for respiratory disease caused from inhaling airborne fibres at work

The dangers to your health of inhaling dust at work should not be underestimated – in this article you will learn about the occupational diseases that you can develop in the workplace from dust on the lungs and how to claim compensation from your employer.

What is a dust on the lungs compensation claim?

Many jobs, such as mining or stone cutting, require workers to be exposed to a large amount of dust all day. This dust can be very fine – if it reaches your lungs damage can be caused and over a long period of time this damage can lead to a lung disease.

If your lungs are scanned – shadows and discolorations may be seen which can lead to a diagnosis of lung disease from dust on the lungs.

The type of lung disease is dependent on the type of dust that you are exposed to. When the dust is from asbestos – it can particularly hazardous causing lung disease, such asbestosis and more rarely mesothelioma. These conditions are explained in more detail later in this article.

If the exposure took place at work or was at the legal fault of another – you may be entitled to make a claim for the lung disease you have suffered.

How does your body attempt to stop dust reaching your lungs?

Your body has a natural defence system designed to keep dust away from your lungs – little hairs called “cilia” line your nose and air passages leading to your lungs. These hairs are sticky – to catch most of the dust particles. In your air passages they move like a conveyor belt – taking trapped dust back up to your mouth where it can be harmlessly removed.

Your natural defence system is very effective, but can be overwhelmed by too much dust – such as when you work in a dusty environment. Over time dust reaches your lungs and builds up causing dust on the lungs.

For example: Imagine you work in construction demolishing old properties. There are many potential hazardous dusts you might be exposed to, including asbestos dust, brick dust, concrete dust, plaster dust, etc. Should your employer not appraise the risks, minimise your dust exposure and provide the correct breathing protection – it is easy to see how you will inhale large amounts of dust every day and so overwhelm your natural defence system.

Watch out – if you are a smoker be very careful of working in dusty environments. Smoking can turn your natural defence system off greatly increasing the risk of lung disease.

Why does dust on the lungs cause damage?

Not all dusts are dangerous, but some dusts when they reach your lungs can cause irritation or a chemical reaction – both of which can lead to scarring of the lungs called “fibrosis”. As time goes by and the dust on the lungs increases – the scarring becomes worse leading to lung disease.

Be careful – some types of dust are so hazardous that just one fibre can cause serious lung disease. An example is an asbestos fibre being caught in the lining of the lungs leading to mesothelioma.

coal dust lung disease compensation claim
Coal Worker Lung Disease

What types of dust can cause occupational lung disease?

The dust of many minerals, compounds, materials and substances can cause dust which can lead to lung disease, including:

Silica or Quartz

Silicosis is the most common form of lung disease from dust. Quartz is one of the earth’s most plentiful minerals and when breathed in . Most mining activities, even for other minerals such as gold or coal, will involve passing through a layer of quartz.


Asbestos fibres are particularly nasty and can cause dust on the lungs conditions, such as asbestosis; lung cancer and pleural thickening.  Asbestos fibres can also affect the lining of several organs in the body when ingested leading to different types of mesothelioma.

Watch out – pleural plaques (slight areas of thickening in the membranes lining the lungs) are benign and typically asymptomatic as such you will typically be unable to claim compensation unless a more serious asbestos condition develops or the pleural thickening spreads to other parts of the lung and becomes diffuse.


Inhalation of beryllium dust can cause berylliosis.

Barium sulphate

A respiratory condition caused from barium sulphate is known as baritosis.

Iron oxide

Iron oxide dust on the lungs can cause siderosis.


Coal dust on the lungs is often known as coal miners black lung – technically known as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis.

Tin oxide

Breathing in excessive tin oxide dust can cause stannosis.


Dust from hardwood, softwood and composite materials such as MDF can cause various different lung conditions – such as asthma and lung cancer.

Other materials and substances

There are many other types of dust fibre and chemical vapour that can caused lung disease.

If you work or have worked in any environment exposed to excessive dust, chemicals or vapours, no matter how many years ago and are experiencing some form of breathing difficulties – it is important you seek medical assistance and contact and industrial disease solicitor.

Watch out – when considering a dust on the lungs industrial disease claim there are limitation periods that might prevent your ability to claim compensation, so the faster your speak to a solicitor the better your chances of making a claim.

Dust Inhalation Respiratory Disease Summary

On this page you have seen why breathing in dust in the workplace can lead to dust on the lungs and in turn a claim for compensation against your employer.

See our industrial injury claim article to find out what you should do before starting a workplace asbestos compensation claim.

We offer online and telephone free legal help options. You might just wish to discuss your situation with a solicitor or have a question that you would like answered before deciding whether to make a industrial lung disease claim.