Are you in VIC? If not, please change below.

In your state, you are required to confirm you wish to access this information. Please enter 'QLD' or 'WA' in the field below to continue.

No thanks

What is a Dust Disease?

Dust disease refers to the number of chronic lung diseases that are caused by inhaling certain dust particles. Not all dust is harmful, but it’s important to know what kinds of dust can have an impact on your health.

Harmful dust particles include:

  • Silica
  • Hard metals, e.g. tungsten, cobalt, aluminium, & beryllium
  • Bagasse – the dry pulp left over after processing sugar cane
  • Cotton
  • Mouldy hay
  • Straw
  • Grain
  • Asbestos
  • Cutting, sanding, drilling or grinding dust

It is important to know that even if you have had contact with these types of dust, the chance of developing dust disease is low. Risk increases with unprotected exposure. If you use the appropriate masks and suppression methods, you are at a low risk of developing the disease.


If you are concerned about your health, dust disease is detected through respiratory medical tests. Symptoms include:

  • Coughing;
  • Shortness of breath or abnormal breathing;
  • Chest pain; and
  • Mucus in your airways.

Dust diseases will not appear until years after exposure. However, if you do contract a disease, there are compensation options depending on whether you caught the disease at work or near a site with poor practices.

There are legal options for dust disease suffers. Those affected during the course of their work can make a claim through Workers Compensation paths, while members of the public can use Public Liability laws to claim compensation to help them with the medical care they need.

Written by Shine Lawyers on . Last modified: July 13, 2017.

Join the discussion

Share this article:

There are 0 comments. Be the first!

Asbestos in the workplace: What are your duties as an employer?

Asbestos is a term used for a range of naturally-occurring, fibrous, silicon-based minerals. These highly versatile minerals were once used across many industries, until the health risks associated with inhaling asbestos fibres became apparent. Although Asbestos was banned in Australia in 2003, it is still commonly found in many workplaces. According to Safe Work Australia, […]

Read more

DIY home renovators: The third wave of asbestos victims

Between 1945 and 1975, Australia was the largest consumer of asbestos products per capita in the world. We mined it, manufactured it and used it extensively across the country. Lauded for its versatility, asbestos was attractive to many industries, particularly construction. Exposure to dust was considered a normal part of the job. It wasn’t until […]

Read more

Case study: Landmark decision for asbestos victim in Northern Territory

After a David and Goliath battle, the entitlements for sufferers of asbestos-related illnesses have now been confirmed in the Northern Territory. Shine Lawyers has secured a High Court ruling that will define the law and entitlements of asbestos victims in the Northern Territory, ensuring they can access compensation for their injuries. The High Court ruling […]

Read more

Silicosis on the rise: The hidden dangers of engineered stone

Historically, silicosis has been recognised as a dust disease affecting labourers from 40 to 50 years ago who worked closely with sandstone products. Unfortunately, this is no longer appears to be the case and many modern workers may be at risk. What is silicosis? Silicosis is a permanent and aggressive lung disease caused by breathing […]

Read more