Whitesburg KY

Campaign’s goal to end black lung

A meeting on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration’s End Black Lung — Act Now Program will be held on Tuesday, March 9, at 2 p.m. at the Appalshop Theater in Whitesburg. The meeting is open to all interested persons.

Respirable coalmine dust can cause lung diseases such as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), emphysema, silicosis, and bronchitis — known collectively as black lung. Black lung can lead to lung impairment, permanent disability, and even death. While there is no cure for black lung, there are important and potentially lifesaving measures that MSHA requires to be undertaken to reduce exposure to respirable coal mine dust and prevent disease. Even though these measures have been required for many years, new cases of black lung continue to occur among the nation’s coal miners, even in younger miners.

Studies conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and MSHA in 2005, 2006, 2007 of chest x-ray surveillance by NIOSH indicated that the prevalence rate of CWP is increasing in coal miners. Even more disturbing is that advanced and seriously debilitating cases of CWP are now seen in younger and younger miners.

While considerable progress has been made in reducing miners’ exposure to respirable coalmine dust, miners continue to develop black lung and silicosis. MSHA is implementing a comprehensive strategy that includes rulemaking, enhanced enforcement, collaborative outreach and education and training. The risk to a miner’s health can be reduced by controlling respirable coalmine dust exposures.

At the March 9 meeting, Dr. Greg Wagner, deputy assistant secretary for policy at MSHA, will speak about MSHA’s recently announced campaign to end black lung. Anita Wolfe with the National Institute for Occupational Health will talk about what NIOSH has learned about the incidence of black lung from its surveillance of miners’ x-rays.

The meeting is sponsored by the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center and Mountain Comprehensive Health Care. For further information, contact Steve Sanders or Wes Addington at 633-3929.

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