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April 03, 2013
Free black lung screenings now under way

NIOSH is offering a series of free, confidential health screenings to coal miners throughout Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.

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The goal of the screenings is early detection of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP). Also known as black lung, it is a serious but preventable occupational lung disease caused by breathing coal dust.

The health checks will be provided through the state-of-the-art NIOSH mobile testing unit at community and mine locations in the four states. Testing includes a work history questionnaire, chest X-ray, and spirometry testing. Blood pressure screening will be offered as well. NIOSH says the process takes about 25 minutes.

Individuals receive the results of their own screenings, and no personal information, including the names of participating miners, is disclosed.

Although still much less than in the 1970s, the prevalence of black lung among U.S. coal miners has increased since the 1990s. The most serious advanced type of the disease, progressive massive fibrosis, is much more prevalent among those working in mines with fewer than 50 workers.

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