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OCCUPATIONAL RESPIRATORY DISEASE SURVEILLANCE

Enhanced Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program (ECWHSP)

The prevalence of coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP), sometimes referred to as "Black Lung Disease," among long-term underground miners that participated in chest x-ray screening decreased from the 1970s to the 1990s. However since 1999, the prevalence of CWP among U.S. coal miners is increasing in mines of all sizes, and the more serious advanced disease of Progressive Massive Fibrosis (PMF) is much more prevalent among miners from underground mines with fewer than 50 workers. To more adequately investigate the trends of CWP throughout the United States, NIOSH, in collaboration with MSHA, has developed, staffed, and implemented the ECWHSP. Surveys are being completed that include work histories, spirometry testing, and radiographic examinations that are gathered in a specially designed mobile examination unit by trained personnel. Reports of individual health findings are sent to each participant.

NIOSH developed the video, "Faces of Black Lung", to be used as a tool to increase participation in the ECWHSP, as well as in the original CWHSP, and other activities directed at preventing the health effects of Black Lung. The goal of the video is to inform the public about the devastating health effects of the disease. A "personal face" has been put on the disease through this video, which consists of unscripted personal interviews with miners that had advanced black lung disease, along with information about the NIOSH Programs. Members of the medical staff that treat miners, currently employed coal miners, coal operators, and medical personnel, as well as others interested in the health of coal miners, will learn more about this disease and will hopefully be motivated to participate in activities aimed at preventing it.

A Data Query System for the The Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program (CWHSP) has been developed to produce tables and maps using an interactive system. The query system generates tables by Disease Severity Level and Disease Severity Prevalence by demographic and geographical criteria for the total number of underground miners that participated in the CWHSP programs.

 Photo of Mobile Health Unit. 

Survey Summaries for SMALL UNDERGROUND Mines

During 2012, the ECWHSP targeted underground miners at small coal mines (defined as less than 50 employees). Currently, the prevalence of CWP among U.S. coal miners is increasing in mines of all sizes, while CWP, and the more serious disease of Progressive Massive Fibrosis (PMF) are much more prevalent among miners from underground mines with fewer than 50 workers. This prevalence is also more pronounced in miners throughout Eastern Kentucky, Southern West Virginia, and Western Virginia. Therefore, those miners were offered this enhanced screening. Although the emphasis was on underground miners, surface miners, mines from other states, and former miners were not turned away. Any mine rescue contest participants during this time period may account for some of the additional states.

Survey Summaries for SURFACE Mines

During 2010-2011, the ECWHSP targeted surface coal miners. The screening for surface coal miners reflects concerns by NIOSH and stakeholders that surface coal miners are also at risk for the occupational disease through exposure to respirable coal mine dust. Knowing the frequency of the disease and who may be at risk is important for determining how to prevent new cases. Consequently, information regarding disease in surface coal miners is crucial. Although the emphasis was on surface miners, underground miners were not turned away. Any mine rescue contest participants during this time period may account for some of the underground miners.

Survey Summaries for HOT SPOTS identified in 12 U.S. States

During 2005-2009, the ECWHSP targeted underground coal miners in the 12 states where rapidly progressive cases of CWP were identified in the article Rapidly Progressive Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis in the United States: Geographic Clustering and Other Factors (Antao VC, Petsonk EL, Sokolow LZ, Wolfe AL, Pinheiro GA, Hale JM, Attfield, MD. Occup Environ Med. 62: 670-674, 2005). Although the emphasis was on underground miners in the 12 identified states, surface miners and miners from other states were not turned away. Any mine rescue contest participants during this time period may account for some of the additional states.

 
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  • Page last reviewed: September 11, 2014
  • Page last updated: February 28, 2013
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