A spike in serious black-lung cases in eastern Kentucky indicates that a disease lawmakers hoped to eradicate decades ago continues to afflict miners.
Citing a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health report released Dec. 15, the Lexington Herald-Leader says 60 current and former miners – all patients of a single radiologist – were diagnosed with progressive massive fibrosis, the most severe form of black lung, between January 2015 and last August. Nearly all were from Pike, Floyd, Letcher and Knott counties.
There were 31 cases identified nationwide from 1990-1999.
Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration head Joe Main says the disease has caused about 78,000 deaths since 1968. In 1969, Congress passed a law intended to wipe out the disease by setting limits on miners’ exposure to breathable dust.
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