Black Lung Backlash


By Greg Portz/MedPage Today Healthcare Investigations

On the heels of reporting from PBS‘s Frontline and NPR on deadly black lung cases in coal miners come calls for more stringent testing, congressional hearings, and more funding via a public emergency declaration.

The news outlets released findings last month from a joint investigation that showed that “government regulators had evidence of excessive and toxic mine dust exposures,” the kind of silica dust that can cause progressive massive fibrosis or black lung, concluding that regulators could have prevented an epidemic that’s killing thousands of coal miners.

Their investigation found that from 2010 to 2018, over 2,000 cases of advanced black lung were reported to healthcare clinics across Appalachia, while nationwide, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reportedly found only 115 such cases. Frontline and NPR also reported that since 1986, the system designed to protect coal miners from these dangerous silica exposures failed 21,000 times.

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