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MSHA says new coal dust rule is working

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Arlington, VA – An effort to help protect coal miners from a group of diseases collectively known as “black lung disease” has made progress, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has announced.

A five-month review of more than 23,600 coal dust samples shows that almost 99 percent were in compliance with a final rule that took effect in August, MSHA said in a press release. Only 1.4 percent of the samples topped compliance levels that help determine violations.

MSHA’s findings, which were released Jan. 15, mirror a progress report issued by the agency in October that also found a compliance rate of about 99 percent.

“These results show that the new dust rule is working, and miners should be breathing cleaner air at coal mines,” MSHA administrator Joseph A. Main said in the press release.

Black lung disease includes pneumoconiosis, emphysema and progressive massive fibrosis. NIOSH estimates that more than 76,000 miners have died since 1968 because of the diseases, which can be caused by prolonged exposure to respirable coal dust.