March 5, 2018 - With NIOSH and the safety community alarmed by a surprising number of serious black lung cases in Virginia, NIOSH will offer a series of free, confidential health screenings to coal miners starting in March 2018 as part of the Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program. The screenings are intended to provide early detection of coal workers' pneumoconiosis, also known as black lung, which results from breathing coal dust.
The health screenings are provided through the state-of-the-art NIOSH mobile testing units. They will begin March 19-23 in coal mining regions throughout Western Kentucky and then take place the following week, March 26-30, throughout Mingo, Logan, and Wayne Counties in West Virginia. Additional survey locations include coal mining regions throughout the rest of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Maryland; in all, 12 weeks of surveys are planned this year.
"If black lung is caught early, steps can be taken to help prevent it from progressing to the most serious forms of the disease," NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard, said. "The NIOSH surveillance program provides both underground and surface miners with confidential screenings that can enable and motivate action towards reducing their exposure to coal dust."
The screenings will include a work history questionnaire, a chest radiograph, a respiratory assessment questionnaire, spirometry testing, and blood pressure screening. Each typically takes about 30 minutes, and each individual miner is provided with his or her results. By law, each person's results are confidential. No individual information is publicly disclosed.
Miners can look for survey announcements on the program's web page, Facebook, and @NIOSHBreathe twitter. All coal miners -- whether current, former, underground, surface, and those under contract -- are welcome to participate.
Miners and their families also may call 888-480-4042 with questions.
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