Black Lung DVD Shows New Face of the Disease

NIOSH's mobile health screening unit will visit coal miners in Grant, Brooke, and Marshall counties in West Virginia; Somerset, Greene, Washington, Allegheny, Westmoreland, Armstrong, Indiana, and Cambria counties in Pennsylvania; Garrett county in Maryland; Campbell county in Tennessee; Belmont and Meigs counties in Ohio; and Bell, Union, Webster, and Hopkins counties in Kentucky in fiscal year 2009. The unit is part of an MSHA-supported program called the Enhanced Coal Workers Health Surveillance Program, and its visit promote disease prevention in individual miners while gathering data for ongoing surveillance of black lung.

Three scientists with NIOSH who work on this continuing problem posted the locations and an announcement on the NIOSH Science Blog this week about a new DVD, "Faces of Black Lung," in which two miners with severe cases of the disease talk about its effects on their lives. Black lung's prevalence has more than doubled since 1995, a worrisome trend that has reversed a 90 percent improvement seen from 1969 to 1995 after the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act was enacted, wrote Mike Attfield, Ph.D., chief of the Surveillance Branch in NIOSH's Division of Respiratory Disease Studies in Morgantown, W.Va.; Anita L. Wolfe, a Public Health analyst and Lead Project Officer and Program Manager for the division's Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program and its Enhanced Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program; and Edward L. Petsonk, M.D., team leader for the Worker Screening and Surveillance Team in the Surveillance Branch. They also said more than 10,000 miners have died from black lung (pneumoconiosis) in the past decade alone.

The recent increase in black lung cases could indicate the current exposure standards are not sufficient, or it could have resulted from inadequate enforcement or compliance with the regulations, miners working longer hours or not being screened for black lung, or other factors.

The blog's address is www.cdc.gov/niosh/blog/. To obtain a copy of the DVD, e-mail awolfe@cdc.gov.

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