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Coal workers' lung diseases.

Wagner GR; Attfield MD; Merchant JA
Public Health & Preventive Medicine. Fourteenth Edition. Wallace RB, Doebbeling BN, Last JM, eds., Stamford, CT: Appleton & Lange, 1998 Jul; :475-481
Lung disease among underground coal miners has been a recognized occupational hazard since at least the mid-seventeenth century. Miners' black lung, no call coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP) was first documented among Scottish coal miners in 1836. although the disease was thought to be disappearing in Britain at the turn of this century, wider use of chest radiographs following World War I showed pneumoconiosis, similar to silicosis, among coal miners in South Wales. By 1934, British physicians were beginning to accept coal dust as an occupational exposure that could result in disability and death. In 1942, the Committee on Industrial Pulmonary Diseases of the Medical Research Council introduced the term "coal workers' pneumoconiosis." In marked contrast, appreciation of CWP as an occupational disease and public health problem occurred much later in the United States, as did legislation to prevent CWP or to compensate for CWP and associated respiratory disease. One reason for the relatively late recognition of CWP as a distinct disease entity in the United States was the early emphasis placed on the etiological role of silica in pneumoconiosis. The Hawk's Nest tragedy (1932 to 1934), in which more than 400 workers dies of acute silicosis and tuberculosis after working on the tunnel at Gauley Bridge, West Virginia, reinforced the prevalent theory that silica content was the critical etiological agent in pneumoconiosis. Since that time, an awareness has grown indicating that CWP is not the only occupational pulmonary disease affecting coal miners. The results of the study by Rogan and colleagues were the first to show a clear link between chronic airflow obstruction and dust exposure, independent of CWP status, while Rae et al. demonstrated that respiratory symptom prevalence was related to level of dust exposure. Emphysema is increased in coal miners, and related to both FEV, retained dust in the lung, and to cumulative dust exposure.
Dust-exposure; Silicosis; Miners; Legislation; Disease-prevention; Lung-diseases
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, 1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, WV 26505
Publication Date
Document Type
Book or book chapter
Wallace RB; Doebbeling BN; Last JM
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Source Name
Public Health & Preventive Medicine
Page last reviewed: October 1, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division