NIOSH to Begin Free Black Lung Health Screenings for Coal Miners

The screenings begin in seven states this month.

NIOSH announced it will begin offering free, confidential screenings for coal workers' pneumoconiosis (also known as black lung). The free screenings will be available in Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and parts of both Utah and Colorado. According to NIOSH, the aim of the screenings is to detect the presence of CWP early.

Coal miners contract CWP by breathing respirable coal mine dust. The screenings—which have been prompted by an increase in the disease—will occur at various mine locations where NIOSH's mobile testing unit will be available. Current, former, underground, and surface miners are all welcome to participate in the screenings, which will include a work history questionnaire, chest x-ray, blood pressure, and spirometry testing. According to NIOSH, the whole process takes around 25 minutes.

The first visits are scheduled for the week of April 20 in Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Texas.

"NIOSH's commitment to prevention includes a dedicated effort towards early detection of black lung in coal miners," said NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard, M.D., MPH. "Through a screening program that is free and confidential, workers can be protected from diseases arising from their work as miners."

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