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Black lung and other dust diseases

Black lung and other dust diseases

There are many causes of lung cancer including inhalation of asbestos. Indeed, some estimates are that there are six lung cancers caused by asbestos inhalation for every case of mesothelioma.

Diseases caused by asbestos and silica are the most well known dust diseases. However, inhalation of substantial quantaties of any dust has been known to be harmful to health for centuries. Many dusts cause diseases.

Dust diseases are frequently described by reference to the dust that caused them. Where these conditions have arisen in the course of employment, they are often compensible. Claims may be brought at common law or under various statutory schemes.

Segelov Taylor is able to provide advice and assistance to anyone suffering a dust disease.

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Black Lung

Black lung, or Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis is caused by long-term exposure to coal dust. It primarily affects coal miners and others who work with coal and graphite products. It is quite similar to chronic silicosis. Black lung is generally diagnosed by chest x-ray or CT scan in conjunction with an industrial history of exposure to coal or graphite dust. The symptoms of black lung include shortness of breath, coughing and chronic bronchitis. In some cases progressive massive fibrosis (PMF) can also develop. PMF can be fatal.

Occupational Asthma

Occupational asthma is asthma (whether a new diagnosis or recurrence of previously dormant asthma) caused by exposure to an agent at the workplace. Exposure to an agent at work may also exacerbate an existing asthma condition. The agent may be a chemical, plant or animal organism, metal or wood dust, chemical or irritant such as a irritant gas, aerosol, vapor or smoke. Where a person has an exposure to a high concentration of an irritant they may develop an acute reaction including reactive airways dysfunction syndrome. The occupations most at risk include handlers (e.g. acrylate), animal handlers and veterinarians (animal proteins), bakers and millers (cereal grains), carpet makers (gums), electronics workers (soldering resin), forest workers, carpenters and cabinetmakers (wood dust), hairdressers (e.g. persulfate), health care workers (latex and chemicals such as glutaraldehyde ), cleaners (e.g. chloramine-T), pharmaceutical workers (drugs, enzymes), seafood processors, shellac handlers (e.g. amines), solderers and refiners (metals), spray painters, insulation installers, plastics and foam industry workers (e.g. diisocyanates), textile workers (dyes) and users of plastics and epoxy resins. Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest tightness, cough, sputum production and wheezing. Some patients may also develop upper airway symptoms such as itchy eyes, tearing, sneezing, nasal congestion and runny nose.

Farmer’s Lung

Farmer’s lung is a disease caused by an allergy to the mould in hay spores and other agricultural products. Farmers lung can lead to a cough, fever, and shortness of breath.


Berylliosis is a chronic allergic-type lung response and chronic lung disease caused by exposure to beryllium and its compounds. Beryllium is used in an alloy with other metals, particularly copper in nickel in technology, aero-space and other industries. The exposure to beryllium can cause the development of small inflammatory nodules, called granulomas. Berylliosis can lead to a restrictive lung disease with a cough, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms can include chest pain, joint aches, weight loss, and fever.

Other Dust Diseases

Exposure to dusts can cause a wide variety of diseases including bagassosis, byssinosis and talcosis. These diseases are all quite rare but share common features.


While the law is different in different States, a number of Australian States have amended the law so that there is no time limit in which to commence a claim in respect of a dust disease. However, in order to recover damages for pain and suffering and loss of expectation of life, the claim must normally be commenced in the person’s lifetime. It is crucial to obtain advice as soon as you are diagnosed with a dust disease.
Your entitlement to bring a claim arises from where you were exposed to a dust, not where you now live. We have acted for many clients who have moved from Australia and have lived in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, Greece and other countries when they have developed dust diseases. We maintain relationships with lawyers in many countries which enables us to effectively represent overseas based clients.
We act on a “no win/no fee” basis in all  dust disease cases. As soon as practicable after receiving your instructions, we will issue you a costs disclosure.  That document will set out the terms on which we will act. We will undertake a through investigation, which may include obtaining medical or other reports prior to commencing proceedings and in order to provide you advice on the merits of your claim.  We will pay for these items. We will only recover our fees if you are successful in your claim. You will not be charged any money up front. We will pay all of the disbursements incurred in litigating your claim and we will recover the disbursements and our costs billed on a time basis at the successful completion of your claim. As part of your settlement or judgement the defendant will pay your party/party costs which cover 70 to 80% of your costs. Please see our Fee Policy in mesothelioma and other dust disease matters page for more information.
If you were exposed to a dust as a worker in New South Wales and you develop a dust related condition you can apply to the DDA for compensation.  An application to the DDA is in addition to any common law claims for damages.  You can (and most people do) do both. If your claim is accepted you will have a right to  a pension and to have all your medical, hospital, pharmaceutical, nursing and nursing aids and equipment costs associated with he asbestos disease paid. The DDA will also pay for travel expenses and assistance required around your home and garden.  You do not need to live in New South Wales at the time you develop the condition, although any exposure to a dust that occurred outside of New South Wales may lead to a reduction in the amounts payable. For more information about the DDA, follow this link.

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Start the compensation process by arranging a free case assessment.

In the free initial case assessment we will obtain general information and provide preliminary advice on whether we believe you are likely to have a claim for compensation, the value of any claim and our costs in the event you were to instruct us.

The case assessment is usually via phone (we will call you at the arranged time) or by video conference (such as Zoom or Teams).

There is no cost associated with this case assessment, nor any obligation to instruct us in your matter.

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