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Pneumoconiosis and other lung diseases caused by external agents statistics

Pneumoconioses are a group of lung diseases caused by inhaled dust. Their symptoms include inflammation, coughing and fibrosis (thickening and scarring of the lungs).  Breathing in dusts over the long term (such as through occupational exposure) can cause fibrosis, or scarring, of the lungs. This results in breathing problems and severe shortness of breath,

These statistics on pneumoconioses in the UK were compiled as part of our Respiratory Health of the Nation project by teams at St George’s University of London, Nottingham University and Imperial College London.

Deaths from lung diseases due to external agents

How many people died from lung diseases due to external agents in 2012?

From 2008 to 2011 the number of UK deaths from lung diseases due to external agents remained steady at around 3,700 per year.

However, in 2012 mortality increased to 4,200. During the period 2008-2012, the vast majority of deaths were due to “pneumonitis due to the inhalation of solids and liquids” (J69). This category is most likely not to be associated with occupational or environmental influences, and relates to inhalation of solids and liquids and subsequent medical complications. Indeed, consistently during this period, around 90% of deaths from lung diseases due to external agents were due to pneumonitis due to the inhalation of solids and liquids.

The increase in mortality that occurs from 2011 to 2012 is largely due to an increase in the number of deaths caused by pneumonitis due to the inhalation of solids and liquids and smaller increases in the number of deaths due to coal-worker’s pneumoconiosis, pneumoconiosis due to asbestos and other mineral fibres.

UK deaths from lung diseases due to external agents compared with other lung diseases, 2012


How old were the people who died from pneumoconioses in 2012?

In 2012, of the 4,171 people who died from pneumoconioses:

  • five were aged 0–14 years;
  • 320 were aged 15–64 years; and
  • 3,846 were aged 65 and above.

How many males and females died from lung diseases due to external agents in each UK region in 2008–12?

Across the UK in 2008–12, 10,859 males and 8,005 females died from pneumoconioses.

England: The death rate from pneumoconioses was higher in the North East and North West compared with the UK overall. It was notably lower in Yorkshire and the Humber, London, the South East and South West, compared with the UK as a whole.

Scotland: The death rate was markedly higher than in the UK generally.

Wales: The death rate was slightly higher than in the UK generally.

Northern Ireland: The death rate was similar to rates in the UK generally.

Pneumoconioses mortality ratios by UK regions, males and females, 2008–12


Emergency hospital admissions

How do rates of emergency admission to hospital for lung diseases due to external agents vary across the UK, 2008–12?

England: There were higher rates of emergency admission in London than in the UK generally. There were notably lower rates in the East Midlands, the South East and the South West.

Scotland: There were notably higher rates of emergency admission than in the UK generally.

Wales: There were lower rates of emergency admissions than in the UK generally.

Northern Ireland: There were notably higher rates of emergency admission than in the UK generally.

Pneumoconioses hospital admission ratios, males and females, in each UK region, 2008–12