Classification and external resources
Specialty pulmonology
ICD-10 J66.0
ICD-9-CM 504
DiseasesDB 1819
MedlinePlus 001089
MeSH D002095

Byssinosis, also called "brown lung disease" or "Monday fever", is an occupational lung disease caused by exposure to cotton dust in inadequately ventilated working environments.[1] Byssinosis commonly occurs in workers who are employed in yarn and fabric manufacture industries. It is now thought that the cotton dust directly causes the disease and some believe that the causative agents are endotoxins that come from the cell walls of gram negative bacteria that grow on the cotton. Although bacterial endotoxin is a likely cause, the absence of similar symptoms in workers in other industries exposed to endotoxins makes this uncertain.[2]

Of the 81 byssinosis-related fatalities reported in the United States between 1990 and 1999, 48% included an occupation in the yarn, thread, and fabric industry on the victim's death certificate.[3] This disease often occurred in the times of the industrial revolution. Most commonly young girls working in mills or other textile factories would be afflicted with this disease. In the United States, from 1996 to 2005, North Carolina accounted for about 37% of all deaths caused by byssinosis, with 31, followed by South Carolina (8) and Georgia (7).[4]

The term "brown lung" is a misnomer, as the lungs of affected individuals are not brown.[5]


Brown lung can ultimately result in narrowing of the airways, lung scarring and death from infection or respiratory failure.


  1. Hollander, AG (December 1953). "Byssinosis". Chest. American College of Chest Physicians. 24 (6): 674–678. doi:10.1378/chest.24.6.674. PMID 13107566. Archived from the original on 2007-10-24. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  2. Newman, Lee S. (June 2008). "Byssinosis". Merck Manuals: online medical dictionary. Merck & Co. Retrieved 2009-06-15.
  3. "Section 4. Byssinosis and Related Exposures". The Work-Related Lung Disease Surveillance Report, 2002. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. 2003.
  4. "Byssinosis: Number of deaths by state, U.S. residents age 15 and over, 1996-2005". National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. March 2009. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
  5. Barry S. Levy; David H. Wegman; Sherry L. Baron; Rosemary K. Sokas (2011). Occupational and environmental health recognizing and preventing disease and injury (6th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 416. ISBN 9780199750061.

Further reading

Snyder, Rachel Louise (2007). Fugitive Denim: A Moving Story of People and Pants in the Borderless World of Global Trade. W. W. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-06180-2. 

Look up byssinosis in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

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