Byssinosis also known as “Monday fever” or “brown lung disease” is primarily associated with textile workers, especially young girls working in factories or mills.
It is thought that exposure to cotton dust in poorly ventilated environments leads to the disease and its accompanying symptoms, like tightness of the chest, coughing and breathing difficulties. Experts believe the cause to be endotoxins from certain bacteria growing on the cotton.
In extreme cases, the disease results in scarring of the lungs and, ultimately, death.
During the 1990s, there were 81 bysinosis-related deaths in the United States alone. Such figures would likely have been much higher around the time of the industrial revolution, when cotton and fabric production increased dramatically throughout the world.