NIOSH announces free health screenings for coal miners

Washington – A series of free, confidential health screenings will be available for coal miners as part of the NIOSH Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program.

NIOSH will provide the screenings in its state-of-the-art mobile testing unit, which will travel across the country to mining sites and public locations. The screenings could provide early detection of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, commonly referred to as “black lung.”

The first set of screenings will take place from March 26 to April 15 in coal mining regions throughout Alabama, according to NIOSH. The second set will occur from May 10 to May 31 throughout Indiana and Illinois. Finally, testing will take place from July 30 to Aug. 26 throughout Eastern Kentucky.

NIOSH said miners who participate in the screenings will benefit from:

  • An easy method to check their health
  • A confidential report on whether they have radiographic evidence of black lung
  • Possible early-stage detection of chest problems other than black lung

The prevalence of black lung has increased in the past two decades, NIOSH states. The potentially fatal disease is caused by exposure to respirable coal mine dust.

“The NIOSH surveillance program and access to free screenings helps recognize early disease in miners and enables those with black lung to take action to reduce their dust exposures,” NIOSH Director John Howard said in a press release. “These services, available to both underground and surface miners, help to disseminate knowledge, raise awareness, and motivate workers to participate in activities aimed at preventing the disease.”

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