CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds black lung disease isn’t limited to miners who work underground.
A study of thousands of surface miners shows that about 2 percent of those tested in 2010-2011 also had the disease.
That’s 46 of 2,257 miners. Twelve had the most severe form, and most of them never worked underground.
CDC researcher Cara Halldin tells The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky., that’s a higher rate than anyone expected because surface miners were thought to have little exposure.
Black lung, or coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, is an irreversible and potentially debilitating disease caused by exposure to coal dust.
The report found it was more prevalent in surface miners in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia than in other coal mining states.