Coughing Up Black Mucus

Coughing up black mucus can be a sign of many things. From inhaled pollutants to smoking, we’ll cover the main causes.

Firstly, know that mucus is a good thing. It’s produced by the lungs to help protect it from foreign matter (dust, dirt, etc.).

The mucus traps the particles and then gets expelled by the nose and mouth. Sometimes, the mucus is sent down the esophagus into the stomach.

Here, the acidity of the stomach can kill many viruses and bacteria trapped into the mucus. While normal mucus is good, black mucus is not.

It’s often a sign that you’re breathing in something that’s bad for you. In this article, we’ll show you the main causes and how to avoid them.

Pollutants – A Common Cause of Black Mucus

coughing up black mucus

Things like dirt, dust, and other pollutants can cause your mucus to turn black when inhaled.

Be careful about breathing in dangerous chemicals.

If you’re working in a place with a lot of air pollution, wear a protective mask.

Breathing in these dangerous particles can lead to many different respiratory diseases and conditions.

Even if you can’t reduce your exposure entirely, try to minimize it as much as possible.

Fungal Infections

There are many different types of infections that can lead to the production of black mucus. Fungal infections are among the most common.

Certain fungi can destroy important lung tissue.

People with diabetes, for example, are susceptible to a type of fungal infection known as mucormycosis. This infection causes people to produce dark-colored mucus.

Things like emphysema, COPD, and lung cancer can cause this symptom as well. Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between the two.

The only way to know for sure would be to speak with a doctor.


A big culprit of black mucus production is smoking. The nicotine from the tobacco can cause normal phlegm to become black, gray, or brown.

Additionally, the toxins in the cigarette smoke can damage the lining of the lungs, eventually producing excess mucus that’s abnormally colored.

Some smokers develop bloody mucus, while others produce mucus that’s permanently black.

As you know, the sooner you give up cigarettes and smoking, the healthier you’ll be.

Pollutants in the Environment

There are many pollutants in the environment that can cause this symptom. These include:

  • Paints
  • Cleaners
  • Coal
  • Smoke
  • Lead
  • Silica
  • Asbestos

Coal miners are especially susceptible to black mucus. Why? Because they breathe in a lot of coal. The best way to protect yourself is with a mask.

Respirator masks can filter out harmful pollutants from the air. If you live in a highly-polluted region, buy one.


Pneumoconiosis is a type of black mucus disease that’s often called “Black Lung Disease”. It’s a general term used to describe any lung disease caused by breathing in foreign particles.

These foreign particles can include asbestos, silica, and many others. Here’s a video showing the importance of removing asbestos from your home:

Black Mucus Remedies

Here are some remedies you can try:

  • Give Up Smoking: It goes without saying, but give up the cigarette! Smoking is by far one of the worst habits you can have. Not only does it lead to black mucus production, but it also puts you at risk for many diseases (lung cancer, emphysema, bronchitis, etc.).
  • Spit it Out: If you’re already producing abnormally-colored mucus, then cough it up and spit it out. You don’t want the mucus accumulating in your lungs. Spitting it out will help keep your lungs clean. Can’t spit it out? Try drinking more water to thin out the mucus.
  • Check Your Home: Hire a professional to check your home for fungi and mold. It’s easy for mold to flourish in damp and moist areas. Aside from checking your home, you may also want to check your office since it can also be riddled with fungi and mold.
  • Use a Respirator: Finally, buy a respirator mask. Most cost between $10 and $30, and are effective at filtering out pollutants in the air. There are different types of respirators (we recommend, so buy the one that best suits your needs and budget.

In summary, coughing up black mucus can be quite scary! While it’s not always a life-threatening symptom, it is something you should see a doctor about.

You could be living in a moldy environment and not even know it. If it’s due to smoking, then give up cigarettes as soon as possible. And be sure to cough it out to clean out your lungs.

Ask a Question: If you want to ask a medical doctor a question that hasn't been answered in one of our articles go to: Ask a Medical Doctor About your Symptoms

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