Although Louisiana does not have an extensive coal mining history, people around the country who are in this industry should be aware that a rising number of black lung cases have been reported. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has discovered that there were 416 instances of complicated black lung, or progressive massive fibrosis, from 2013 to 2017 in just three clinics.
Black lung is used to refer to one of any number of respiratory diseases that are caused by exposure to coal mine dust. By the close of the 20th century, the occurrence of the condition had fallen to an all-time low, as only 31 cases were reported. However, it is now on the rise.
The Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program was established by NIOSH in 1970 to provide chest radiographs and examinations to coal miners free of charge. A surge in black lung disease, or coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, was reported in 2014 by the program. In 2017, the director who oversaw the three clinics that saw rise in the occurrences of the disease requested assistance from researchers to determine the severity of the situation.
Coal miners can inhale coal mine dust as they cut into the seams of the coal. The minuscule particles of dust are released into the air where they are breathed into miners’ lungs and are trapped. In addition to coal, the dust also includes silica, a lung irritant that can cause significant damage. The body’s immune system will attempt to attack the particle, but to no effect.
Workers’ compensation benefits cover occupational diseases as well as workplace injuries. Victims of toxic exposure at their jobs might want to discuss their situation with an experienced attorney.