black lung disease

US Geological Survey, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Coal miners who work in small mines are more than twice as likely to contract the most serious form of black lung disease, according to a new federal study. 

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes unveiled a plan Thursday to improve mine safety and address black lung diseases—an offensive campaign move on the Kentucky coal issue.

Her plan also takes Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell to task for vowing to repeal a key provision in the Affordable Care Act that helps coal miners receive benefits for black lung disease.

Jack Corn / Environmental Protection Agency-National Archives


Kentucky coal miners seeking workers compensation for black lung may get a new way to battle denied claims.

In a 2011 Kentucky Supreme Court case of Vision Mining, Inc v. Gardner, the state’s highest court found that the methodology for reaching consensus on disputed X-rays of coal miners with black lung was unconstitutional.

Department of Workers’ Claims Commissioner Dwight Lovan says the ruling affects about 3,000 finalized black lung claims over the past decade.

Over the decades, great gains have been made in reducing black lung disease among coal miners. But, recently, there’s been an uptick in the sometimes fatal condition. 

Fifty years ago, Central Appalachian Education and Research Center Director Wayne Sanderson said about a third of all miners contracted black lung.  Today, the potentially deadly disease afflicts about four to five percent of miners.  And, Sanderson said, that number’s climbing.


From NPR: Cases of Black Lung surge as an investigation by NPR and CPI uncovers regulators' inability to control a deadly disease.

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A new study shows black lung disease isn’t limited to just coal miners who work underground.  Studies for coal workers’ pneumoconiosis—or black lung disease—haven’t been done on surface miners in a decade, and the miners were commonly thought to be less at risk for the disease than underground workers.