Understanding Byssinosis (Brown Lung Disease)

What is Byssinosis?

Byssinosis (brown lung disease) is a lung disease caused by exposure to dusts from cotton processing, hemp and flax. The small airways become blocked, severely harming lung function. In the United States, byssinosis is almost completely limited to workers who handle unprocessed cotton.

How Serious is Byssinosis?

If you have byssinosis, exposure to cotton dust can cause an asthma-like reaction at the beginning of every work week. The symptoms usually go away by the end of the work week. If you are exposed for a long period, your symptoms may continue throughout the week without improving.

Symptoms of the disease usually improve after you are no longer exposed to the dust. If you continue to be exposed, your lung function could be damaged.