Factory Workers' Disease Condition in Veneficia | World Anvil

Factory Workers' Disease

Factory Workers' Disease is a condition caused by inhaling coal dust and poor hygiene conditions in factories. Its main symptoms are difficulty breathing and black spots all over the body. For the most part, the condition isn't contagious, but many people are afraid of it. It is caused by the fact that it can be contagious depending on how big is the infection from poor hygiene. Untreated leads to death.

Help... I... can't... bre...
— An affected person


  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing up black mucus
  • Dark spots of dead skin all over the body

Affected Groups

  • Factory workers who have contact with coal and coal dust
  • Coal miners
  • Poor people who can't afford hygiene products or good quality coal for heating


Before the invention of the steam engine and founding of the first factories the disease was quite rare. It happened from time to time among miners, but it wasn't a big problem. Situation started to slowly change when the first factories were built in 1800 AF, especially among the people working with coal. The first confirmed case was in 1804 AF. However, for many years factory owners didn't care about their workers. Those who stopped working because of the disease were fired without any pay.

In the beginning, people suffering from the condition were mostly left alone as its cause was unknown. Suffocating people covered in dark spots of dead skin were a regular sight on streets of many cities in the world. Luckily, as medicine was advancing there was more and more understanding of the condition. In 1836 AF a Tarran doctor found out, by analyzing a victim's lungs, that difficulty in breathing comes from particles of coal setting on the lungs blocking the flow of oxygen. Just a few years later, it was discovered that the black spots are a result of a bacterial infection caused by poor hygiene conditions in the factories.

Today, the condition is partially treatable. If diagnosed early enough and/or the lungs aren't destroyed too much, the bacterial infection can be easily cured. However, there is no cure for the lung condition, but there is hope. There are mages who experiment with magcial means of removing coal particles from the lungs of affected people. Currently, the most effective thing is prevention by using a special mask which filter the air a worker is breathing.

Cultural Reception

Those affected with the disease used to be left alone and factory owners used to fire them. When there was a group of them sitting on the street everyone was crossing to the other side of the street to avoid any contact with the affected. Luckily, understanding of the causes and invention of some simple treatments have started to change people's attitude. However, it is still common for people to avoid contact with the affected and hospitals often have a separate building for them.

Chronic, Acquired
Affected Species
What!? Closed for improper sanitation standards!? Do you want me to go broke?
— A factory owner

Cover image: Veneficia cover by julianuc


Author's Notes

Article written for the prompt "A medical condition which is feared by some" during Summer Camp 2021

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2 Jul, 2021 14:51

oh man, as someone with asthma I would hate to have that. It's awful that the people avoided those affected out of fear but I'm not sure I would have done much different. Really well written, I enjoyed the read, did take a moment to get used to the font though.

You should check out the The 5 Shudake, if you want of course.
2 Jul, 2021 15:07

Thank you

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Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
2 Jul, 2021 15:02

Interesting! so basically it's too different diseases that often occur together, right? Though the bacteria would be contagious but not the coal particles in the lungs. Unless, could people also catch them just from their poorly ventilated houses/apartments and the coal heating?

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2 Jul, 2021 15:07

Yes, those are two diseases, but almost always occur together. Coal heating can be a source, of course, Probably more when putting the goal into the device, but probably when working it also could do something

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Time Bender
3 Jul, 2021 00:49

Oof, that sounds awful. I can imagine why it is a feared condition. It's a shame that people who are sick are often ostracized from communities, however!