NIOSH logo and tagline

An Investigation Into the Relationship Between Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis and Dust Exposure in U.S. Coal Miners

February 2013
NIOSH Dataset RD-1003-2013-0

The National Study of Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis (NSCWP) is a large, continuing epidemiologic study of the respiratory health of U.S. coal miners. By using information from the study, prevalence of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP) was related to indexes of dust exposure obtained from research and compliance sampling data. Clear relationships between prevalences of both simple CWP and progressive massive fibrosis (PMF) and estimated dust exposure were seen. Additional effects independently associated with coal rank (% carbon) and age were also seen. Logistic model fitting indicated that between 2% and 12% of miners exposed to a 2-mg/m3 dust environment in bituminous coal mines would be expected to have Category 2 or greater CWP after a 40-yr working life; PMF would be expected for between 1.3% and 6.7%. The risks for anthracite miners appeared to be greater. There was a suggestion of a background level of abnormality, not associated with dust exposure, but increasing with age. Although there are certain weaknesses in the data used to derive these exposure estimates, the results are in general agreement with, but somewhat greater than, some recent findings for British coal miners.

The primary data pertaining to these analyses are available below in CSV and SAS format. A small minority of the data have been excluded for cells having <5 individuals in order to maintain confidentiality.

Data Collection Methods

Round 1 of the The National Study of Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis (NSCWP) took place between 1969 and 1971. During that time, 31 underground mines situated in all of the major coal fields were visited and the miners examined medically before or after the work shift. The examination consisted of chest x-rays, spirometry, and a questionnaire having sections on work history, smoking history, and chest symptoms. Dust levels at 17 of the 31 mines were sampled intensively between 1968 and 1969. The resulting data, together with those from a number of other large mines were used to calculate personal exposure estimates for the miners at the 31 mines. Detailed descriptions of the methods are provided here.


This project was supported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). When a publication makes use of this dataset, acknowledgement of the development of the dataset should be attributed to NIOSH Division of Health Studies.


NIOSH/Respiratory Health Division
Surveillance Branch
(304) 285-5749