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British data on coal miners' pneumoconiosis and relevance to US conditions.

Am J Publ Health 1992 Jul; 82(7):978-983
The relevancy of British data on coal workers pneumoconiosis (CWP) for US coal miners was discussed. The Federal Coal Mine and Safety Act (MHSA) of 1969 and its impact on the US coal mining industry were considered. MHSA mandated that a coal mine dust standard of 3mg/m3 be implemented in US mines in an effort to reduce the prevalence of CWP. The standard was to be reduced to 2mg/m3 in December 1972. The standard was based on epidemiological data obtained from foreign studies, primarily studies in British coal miners. The X-ray features associated with CWP were reviewed. The scientific basis for the 2mg/m3 standard was discussed. Data obtained in recent epidemiological studies of British coal miners were reviewed. The data were combined with CWP prevalence rates for US coal miners obtained from the Coal Workers X-ray Surveillance Program and the National Study of CWP, two ongoing nationwide studies managed by NIOSH, to estimate the CWP risk of coal miners in mines where dust exposures were controlled to 2mg/m3. The risk of developing CWP for a coal miner who had a lifetime (40 year) exposure to 2mg/m3 coal mine dust was estimated to be 9%. The risks for category 2 or greater CWP and progressive massive fibrosis were 2.2 and 0.7%, respectively. The author concludes that the 2mg/m3 coal dust standard will probably not eliminate CWP from the US coal mining industry. US coal miners who are employed for 40 years in a 2mg/m3 environment will still be at risk for developing CWP.
NIOSH-Author; Epidemiology; Coal-workers-pneumoconiosis; Legislation; Coal-dust; Standards; Occupational-exposure; Chest-X-rays; Risk-analysis; Surveillance-programs
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American Journal of Public Health