Study: Black Lung Hot Spots Due To "Gaps" In Control Dust Efforts

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - An alarming number of black lung disease cases among coal miners in portions of eastern Kentucky and southwestern Virginia may be caused by "gaps" in efforts to control dust in the mines, according to a study.

"There is something going on, a failure of protection of these miners," said Dr. Edward L. Petsonk, a senior medical officer at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Petsonk and lead author Michael Attfield discovered 37 cases of advanced black lung during screenings conducted in seven counties in the heart of the two states' coal mining operations.

The study, published in a federal medical journal, said finding miners under the age of 50 with several black lung is "particularly concerning because they were exposed to coal-mine dust in the years after implementation of the disease prevention mandated by ... 1969 federal legislation."

Petsonk said the number of "hot spots" of the disease is troubling.

"We are finding more disease among younger miners that can be rapidly progressive," Petsonk said.

Researchers visited 26 sites in seven counties and tested 975 miners. They were asked to fill out questionnaires, given lung-capacity tests and X-rays. Four percent of the miners tested had advanced black lung.

The 37 afflicted miners had worked underground for at least one 10-year interval without a chest X-ray, and 22 had gone two decades without getting one. The federal government offers free, voluntary chest screenings for miners.

The miners told researchers one of the reasons they didn't take the test was fears that their employer may find out the results.

The study said part of the problem is enforcement and compliance with dust-code regulations.

Petsonk said coal dust safety standards could be modified to better protect the miners. He suggested lowering the 2 milligram dust exposure standard to 1 milligram and giving miners "personal dust monitors" so they can track their exposure.

Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration officials have expressed support for the current standard.
Information from: The Courier-Journal,

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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  • by ex miner wife Location: wooton ky on Jul 6, 2007 at 03:34 PM
    the men with black lung are egnored . the are told they have just a samll amount of dust in thier lungs when they get oxygen level check it showes low level the doctor and the state and federal goverment does not want the men to have any kind of help . black lung is real problem alot of people have it . it is a shame on the doctors that are bought off you have to die frist to prove you have black lung. don't for get the lawyer too that take a cash to sell out the men that work in the mines .. who benafits from saving the fed or state funds from the black lungs . would it be the men that we elect .
  • by Coal Miners Are # 1! Location: Coal Mineing Country Good Old KY! on Jul 6, 2007 at 06:37 AM
    Coal miners need more safe laws and alot more test for black lung yes they have to make a living and need to stay longer in the mines to make that living this day and time. However coal dust needs to be reduced and more test made to be done cause miners with health problems under ground is a safely hazard to other miners under ground with them. They don't go for the test cause if they get kicked out and given a continsation check then it will only get took away from them due to The Famous Bad Low Polls Gov. Fletcher! He only thinks you should live to 71 to draw your check then takes it for 5 years then give it back to them. Member coal miners he is waiting to see if you die in your old age then give it back if you don't!
  • by x miner Location: pikeville on Jul 6, 2007 at 05:53 AM
    as an x mine foreman i know these dust tests are easily manipulated .they are a joke msha turns their head


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