Federal agencies Worker health and wellness Coal Mining_Oil_Gas

NIOSH to screen coal miners for black lung


Washington – NIOSH will be offering free, confidential health screenings to coal miners to help detect the occupational lung disease known as black lung in its early stages.

The screenings are in response to an increase in serious lung diseases and new requirements for providing testing to surface miners, according to NIOSH. Part of the agency’s Enhanced Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program, screenings are scheduled to take place from April 11 to May 20 in coal mining regions in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. Screenings also are slated for Aug. 14 to Sept. 9 in West Virginia. Current, former, underground, surface and contract coal miners can participate.

The 30-minute screening will involve a chest radiograph, spirometry testing and questionnaires regarding work history and respiratory assessment. Blood pressure screenings also will be offered.

Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, also called black lung, is caused by breathing coal mine dust. Prevalence of CWP has risen in U.S. coal miners since the 1990s, according to NIOSH. Statistics also show that progressive massive fibrosis, an advanced form of lung disease, is more widespread among miners at underground mines employing fewer than 50 workers.

“We have recently expanded our existing health surveillance program from covering only underground miners to covering surface miners too,” NIOSH Director John Howard said in a press release. “NIOSH has developed, staffed and implemented the coal workers’ surveillance program for years and will continue to reach miners throughout the nation in efforts to screen for the early detection of black lung.”

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