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NIOSH offering free health screenings for coal miners

Image: NIOSH

Washington — Coal miners soon will have access to a series of free, confidential health screenings through the NIOSH Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program.

NIOSH’s mobile testing unit will visit mining sites and public areas to screen for early detection of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis. Commonly known as “black lung,” the condition is caused by exposure to respirable coal mine dust.

Screenings are scheduled for March 19 to 23 in mining regions throughout western Kentucky. A second set is slated for March 26 to 30 in Mingo, Logan and Wayne counties in West Virginia. According to NIOSH, 12 weeks of screenings are planned in 2018, including in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and additional West Virginia locations. Consult the CWHSP website, Facebook account or Twitter feed for additional announcements.

NIOSH lists several benefits of the screenings:

  • An easy method for checking miners’ health
  • A confidential report on whether radiographic evidence of black lung exists
  • A confidential report detailing miners’ lung function

“If black lung is caught early, steps can be taken to help prevent it from progressing to the most serious forms of the disease,” NIOSH Director John Howard said in a March 1 press release. “The NIOSH surveillance program provides both underground and surface miners with confidential screenings that can enable and motivate action toward reducing their exposure to coal dust.”

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