Make American (miners) Gag Again


Forum Staff
Oct 2010
Oh yes, the "war on coal" is ending as Coal's war on people is escalating.

Who needs any stinking federal regulations?

Black Lung Study Finds Biggest Cluster Ever Of Fatal Coal Miners' Disease

Epidemiologists at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health say they've identified the largest cluster of advanced black lung disease ever reported, a cluster that was first uncovered by NPR 14 months ago.

In a research letter published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, NIOSH confirms 416 cases of progressive massive fibrosis or complicated black lung in three clinics in central Appalachia from 2013 to 2017.

"This is the largest cluster of progressive massive fibrosis ever reported in the scientific literature," says Scott Laney, a NIOSH epidemiologist involved in the study.

"We've gone from having nearly eradicated PMF in the mid-1990s to the highest concentration of cases that anyone has ever seen," he said.

The clinics are operated by Stone Mountain Health Services and assess and treat coal miners mostly from Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia, a region that includes what have historically been some of the most productive coalfields in the country.

"When I first implemented this clinic back in 1990, you would see ... five [to] seven ... PMF cases" a year, says Ron Carson, who directs Stone Mountain's black lung program.

The clinics now see that many cases every two weeks, he says, and have had 154 new diagnoses of PMF since the fieldwork for the NIOSH study concluded a year ago.

"That's an indication that it's not slowing down," Carson says. "We are seeing something that we haven't seen before."

...Coincidentally, new federal regulations that are supposed to limit exposure to dangerous levels of coal and silica dust were fully implemented in 2016, a few months before NPR first reported the PMF epidemic. The Trump administration recently announced a "retrospective study" of the new regulations, a move that has mine safety advocates concerned, especially given the epidemic of the disease caused by mine dust.

"It would be outrageous for any undercutting of those regulations that puts miners [back] in harm's way and subjects even more of them to this terrible disease," says Joe Main, the former mine safety chief at the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.

"When we think we know as much as we thought we should know about the disease, the next day [there's] worse information," says Main. "It shows that the depth of the disease is worse than what we knew the day before."

Main pushed for the tougher mine dust exposure limits. His successor at MSHA is David Zatezalo, a former mining company executive.
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Jun 2013
Not to worry IT. Kentucky just passed a plan that will make this problem go away.

A measure signed into law in Kentucky this past week would prevent federally-certified radiologists from judging X-rays in state black lung compensation claims, leaving diagnoses of the disease mostly to physicians who typically work for coal companies.

The new law requires that only pulmonologists — doctors who specialize in the lungs and respiratory system — assess diagnostic black lung X-rays when state black lung claims are filed.

Up until now, radiologists, who work in evaluating all types of X-rays and other diagnostic images, had been allowed to diagnose the disease as well.

Just six pulmonologists in Kentucky have the federal certification to read black lung X-rays and four of them routinely are hired by coal companies or their insurers, according to an NPR review of federal black lung cases.

The two remaining pulmonologists have generally assessed X-rays on behalf of coal miners but one is semi-retired and his federal certification expires June 1.

Among the radiologists excluded by the law is Dr. Brandon Crum, who helped expose the biggest clusters ever documented of complicated black lung, the advanced stage of the fatal disease that strikes coal miners.

"I do believe the coal industry is writing this bill to exclude certain doctors that they don't like," said Phillip Wheeler, an attorney in Pikeville, Ky., who represents coal miners seeking state black lung benefits.
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Jun 2013
What a pack of corrupt pieces of shit.
Kentucky and West Virginia are actively taking away health and pension benefits from miners and teachers yet these affected people will trip over themselves to vote Republican in the next election. You just can’t fix stupid.