Data from a 1972 US Public Health Service study of 1438 workers in eight strip coal mines and data on surface coal mine dust samples collected from 1972 to 1979 were examined. A total of 52 workers among the 1438 in the Public Health Service study had category 1 pneumoconiosis, two had category 2 and five had progressive massive fibrosis. Workers without previous dust exposure were not at risk for category 2 or higher pneumoconiosis because of the strip mining environment. The prevalence of pneumoconiosis in the reanalysis was similar to that reported in the Public Health Service study. Category 2 or higher pneumoconiosis was increased among workers with previous underground experience. The annual average coal mine dust concentration was less than 1 milligram per cubic meter (mg/m3) in the bituminous mines. More than 90 percent of the surface coal mines had an average concentration of less than 1mg/m3. The prevalence of category 2 or higher pneumoconiosis among workers without previous experience was negligible in most of the bituminous surface coal mines. Evaluation of the anthracite strip mine industry was considered difficult since only one such mine was included in the analysis. The authors conclude that surface coal mine workers should be given radiographic examinations periodically for pneumoconiosis if they work in jobs with high concentration of silica (7631869), have had previous underground experience, or have worked in anthracite mines.
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