• 7020 MacCorkle Avenue, SE Charleston, WV 25304
  • pjacobs@bjblaw.com
  • 800-966-6593
  • Mon - Sat: 08:30AM - 05:00PM

The Rise in Coal Miners Disease: Why It’s Happening, and What the Industry is Doing About It

According to research from NIOSH (the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), more than 400 cases of black lung disease have been found in Appalachia’s coal miners. This condition has lasting and often fatal effects, and families are often left emotionally and financially devastated. Below are several important questions and answers about black lung disease.

What Causes It?
Underground mining is among America’s most dangerous jobs. Risks are numerous, including toxic gas inhalation, crush injuries, drowning, and explosion. Even if a miner survives the workplace, they may essentially suffocate years later due to black lung disease. Mining is linked to pneumoconiosis, or dust-related lung disease. Black Lung disease arises when coal dust is inhaled, and silicosis are often linked because coal and silica-rich rock are found together.

What’s Bringing the Increase in Cases?
The Rise in Coal Miners Disease is likely due to multiple factors. Much of the coal in West Virginia is low, with short seams. Such coal is hard to mine, but it’s profitable because of its uses in steel production. As miners cut through rock to get to the coal, they’re exposed to more silica and coal dust. While the condition is commonly referred to as “black lung”, it’s primarily silicosis.

Is the Industry Taking Steps to Prevent It?
The federal government’s Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program provides screenings to current miners; x-rays are taken to detect early lung changes. The resulting information is given to miners, so they can determine whether to continue working, but it’s kept confidential from employers. TO minimize dust exposure, mine owners can mist water to keep dust out of the air, increase underground airflow, or require workers to wear a respirator.

Are There Resources Available to Miners With Black Lung?
A black lung diagnosis is often complex. Some common symptoms include decreased exertion tolerance, shortness of breath, coughing up mucus, chronic cough, and difficulty breathing when lying flat. Other conditions may cause some of the same symptoms, and miners should see a doctor as soon as possible. Following that, it’s important to contact an Attorney to start the claims process. Call today to get the Representation needed to win a black lung claim.