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National Academy Report Urges Stronger Coal Dust Monitoring Amid Black Lung Surge



A new report from the National Academy of Sciences says the coal mining industry needs a "fundamental shift" in the way it controls exposure to coal and rock dust on Obama-era rule to strengthen the monitoring and control of dust at the National Academies Panel more often than not it is said that it is the most prevalent of Appalachian miners. [19659002"Theremaybesomeincreaseintheriskfactorsthataredrivingthisincreaseindisease"CecileRosesaidRoseisapulmonologistandmedicalprofessoratNationalJewishHealthDenverandservesastheauthorofthereport

The report calls for continued use of personal dust monitors, which were put into use after the Labor Department's implementation of the 201

4 Dust Control Rule.

"There is an urgent need for monitoring and sampling strategies that continue to be effective," said Thure Cerling. Cerling is a Distinguished Professor of Geology and Geophysics and Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of Utah.

The panel recommended more health screening for minors and a focus on other types of dust miners. Changes in mining technologies, changes in production, changes in the heights of the coal seams, the amount of overburden rock that may be mined along with the coal, these are all worth looking at, "Rose said.

The report calls for better monitoring of the highly toxic silica or quartz dust that is formed when cutting into some kinds of rock, such as quartz – bearing sandstone. The panels are designed to provide a real-time measurement of the amount of dust miners breathe.

"Hard to breathe"

Virginia Miner Jackie Yates knows that Dust all too well. Yates said he has been cutting more rock as the remaining coal seams grew thinner.

"Nowadays, all the good coal – we call it the 'gravy coal, that's the company like to see' cause you almost do it a lot of dust – all that's gone," Yates said in an interview with ReSource reporter Benny Becker.

"It's a little seam here, and a lot of rock in the middle. That's just left. "

Yates said the white silica dust would pile up like it's on his helmet and clog his protective mask. At age 49 he's been diagnosed with the complicated, or severe, form of black lung disease.

"It's hard to breathe," he said. "I'll go to coughing real bad, coughing to the point of almost throwing up."

Yates said his father was a miner, as was his older brother. His brother, he said, died from black lung while still in his 50s.

"I made my choice when I was 19 years old to work in the coal mines," Yates said. "And if cancer does not take me, or a wreck on a street wants to take me, coal mine wants."

Industry Response

The National Mining Association, the trade group representing major coal producers, declined an interview but issued a brief statement in response to the report. X-ray programs and air stream helmets for miners.

"Government and industry must work together to improve miner health and safety, and we look forward to doing our part." to support those efforts, the NMA said in its statement.

Mine safety advocate Joe Main was in charge of the Labor Department's Mine Safety and Health Administration at the time, and what instrumental in getting it in place.

Main supported the National Academy panel's findings, which include a call for the mining industry to go beyond compliance with regulation to find ways to meet health goals.

"Let's just call a spade a spade," Main said. "There has been a change in our mining industry operates in this country. Attitudes have to change in industry to really take ownership of issue. "

Black lung expert Edward Petsonk agreed.

Petsonk is a pulmonologist and West Virginia University professor who has worked at the United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

"It's just not acceptable to have this level of disease and death in an industry and not a really serious response," he said. Benny Becker contributed to this story.

ReSource reporter Benny Becker contributed to this story.


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