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Pulmonary carcinoma is now the leading cause of death due to cancer in men and women. Aside from cigarette smoking, occupational exposure to carcinogens is the most important cause of lung cancer, accounting for up to one third of all cases. The following article is a review of occupationally induced thoracic neoplasms with an emphasis on those related to the inhalation of inorganic dust. After introducing some basic terms, describing the research methods, and reviewing the process of carcinogenesis, current information on the relationship between exposure to asbestos, synthetic mineral fibers, silica, and other nonfibrous mineral dusts and the development of lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma of the pleura will be presented. The goal of this article is to provide the practicing radiologist with knowledge and insight into this difficult area.