The disease known as Coalworker’s Pneumoconiosis is also known as Black Lung Disease. It is caused by long term exposure to breathing coal dust. It is common to those that work with coal dust, and it is similar to silcosis, which is the disease caused by breathing silica dust.
This is a disease that builds up in the lungs of workers, where the coal dust is not able to be removed by exhaling. It causes inflammation, fibrosis, and necrosis of the lung tissue, where the tissue actually dies.
Normally a person will get a mild form of the disease which is a bell weather warning, the disease known as anthrocosis. It can be symptomatic of a deeper condition and can also be caused by pollution from other sources.
Large amounts of carbon and coal dust can make the lighter form of anthrocosis advance to the dreaded black lung or Pneumoconiosis disease. Currently it is believed that as many as 10,000 American Coal miners may have died from CWP.
For many years after the Coalworker Pneumoconiosis began to be diagnosed the disease was on the decline, due to better breathing protection and increased awareness, but in the last few years it has been on the rise.
Since the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety act of 1969 cane into effect the number of CWP cases in miners has gone down about 90 percent, but the disease is slowly starting to increase again.
In the last 10 years the cases have doubled. From 2000 to 2004 more than 4,000 miners have died from CWP in the United States. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have met with the Mine Safety Officials and started a screening program for miners.
Miners that participate in the program are evaluated every five years at no cost, including chest X rays, and they can help prevent any more cases of Coalworkers’s Pneumoconiosis.