Histopathological Evidence of Coal-Workers’ Anthracofibrosis in Natural Mummies of 16th-18th Centuries
Keywords:Anthracofibrosis, Natural Mummies, Resin Embedding, Coal Worker
AbstractDuring the restoration works of the Conversion of St. Paul Church in Roccapelago (Modena, Italy, 2009), a burial crypt containing the remains of about 400 individuals was discovered. Natural mummification has occurred in 60 cases. Our Research Group, focused the paleopathological investigation on the pulmonary tract, since the reported massive coal dust exposure of Roccapelago’s dwellers even in parish records. In 24 mummies, the alleged pulmonary tissue was biopsied through pre- existing solutions of continuity of the rib cage. In 18 cases (75%), lung tissue was recognized. In 7 cases (29,16%) we observed a massive deposition of black pigment, often nodular shaped, surrounded by dense fibrous tissue more evident with the Masson Trichrome staining. The morphological findings appeared diagnostics for anthracofibrosis secondary to massive pulmonary anthracosis. To our knowledge, this series is one of the most conspicuous paleopathological records of occupational lung diseases.