Mining workers need more protection against black lung

According to a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, not enough is being done to protect coal mining workers from black lung disease. The report, called 'Monitoring and Sampling Approaches to Assess Underground Coal Mine Dust Exposures," suggests ways that miners can be further protected beyond that lax standards in place as of 2018. For miners in Missouri and beyond, the rising rate of black lung is a major concern.

Black lung, otherwise known as coal workers' pneumoconiosis, results from years of inhaling coal dust, or RCMD. The disease is often fatal. That's why the National Academy's report focuses on ways to limit the amount of dust miners inhale while on the job. Authors of the report, however, say that solving the problem will require much more complicated scientific, legal and regulatory solutions.

One of the primary concerns of the report is whether or not RCMD is being accurately measured in mines. Part of the reason for this concern is the use of other chemicals in mines, often used to reduce the combustibility of coal dust, that might contribute to black lung. A representative from the Mine Safety and Health Administration said the agency will only comment once they've fully read and analyzed the report.

Individuals who have been impacted by black lung may have the right to workers' compensation. The disease can result in high medical bills, lost wages and even death. In some circumstances, the coal mining company may be responsible financially for these damages. An attorney representing the victim may recommend negotiating a settlement or filing a lawsuit depending on the situation.

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