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November 19, 1938


Author Affiliations


From the Saranac Laboratory for the Study of Tuberculosis of the Edward L. Trudeau Foundation.

JAMA. 1938;111(21):1925-1936. doi:10.1001/jama.1938.72790470007011

Although the term pneumoconiosis was not introduced until the nineteenth century, clinical symptoms were naturally enough associated with the inhalation of dust in occupation by the earliest medical writers. In the Renaissance both physicians and mining engineers were well aware of the fact that the metal miner suffered from shortness of breath and died prematurely, and anatomists had described "heaps of sand" in the lungs of stone cutters which grated on their knives. They called the condition phthisis, their term for any chronic disease of the lungs which was associated with emaciation and expectoration. While most of the various conditions originally known by this name were differentiated and fully described in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it was not until 1902 that the role of inhaled dust began to be understood. In that year an English departmental committee, of which Dr. J. S. Haldane was the outstanding member, pointed out